So, you’ve finished The Wire, Breaking Bad and The Killing but you’re still hungry for more boxsets. Fear not, Standard Issue writers are on the case with some gems you might not yet have seen. Twenty years since its last series aired, Lucy Reynolds waxes joyous about the comedy punch in the balls that is Bottom.
What’s more entertaining than a grown man, dressed as the Devil, in obscenely fitted tights, repeatedly electrocuting himself and shitting his pants?
Nothing, is the answer. Nothing is better than that.
Welcome to Bottom, the anarchic brainchild of British comedy duo Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson. It’s a kind of follow-on from The Young Ones; the boys have got older, but they haven’t matured in the least. It’s been 20 years since its last series aired and due to the relatively recent death of Rik Mayall (the tears are still fresh), binging on Bottom is the only thing to do over the holidays.
After appearing in a West End production of Waiting for Godot in 1991, Mayall and Edmondson decided to create Bottom. It definitely has a similarity to Beckett’s play, albeit with more cock jokes and (hilarious) slapstick violence.
Set mainly in a grubby bedsit in Hammersmith, our dirty duo Richard ‘Richie’ Richard and Edward ‘Eddie’ Elizabeth Hitler spend their days goading each other, wasting their giros and desperately trying to work out how to attract women.
Richie has a high sense of self-importance along with a keen sense of self-loathing, which manifests itself in his many failed attempts to find a girlfriend and break free of his life with the alcoholic-bordering-on-psychopathic Eddie.
What results is some of the most over-the-top, cartoon-style violence out there; it makes UFC look like a playground scuffle. It’s all delivered with such energy and silliness that it is hard not to become addicted. Added to that are more euphemisms, knob jokes and sexual innuendos than you can shake a penis-shaped stick at:
“Eddie, have you strained your vegetables?”
“No, it’s just these hired trousers are a bit tight!”
Running for three series from 1991 to 1995, Bottom and Rik and Ade became my absolute childhood favourites – so much so that my friend Shelley and I watched every episode about 30 times, our schooldays spent quoting the lines to each other. Our favourites were:
“May I just say, that’s a smashing blouse you have on.” (The only line Richie can ever stutter, nervous and sweating, when faced with a real-life woman.)
“I can see your point.” “Sorry, that’s just the way my skirt rucks up.”
And just shouting, “You utter bastard!”
“Forget Her Maj’s chit-chat – this should be obligatory viewing every festive season.”
At 15 we probably should have been swooning over Take That, but instead we were obsessed with watching Rik Mayall fall downstairs, get his head stuck in a toilet or have his testicles electrocuted. Ah, halcyon childhood days.
It’s hard to pick my favourite episode as quite frankly they are all ridiculously funny, so here is my top three for Bottom virgins (read that correctly please!) who want a quick intro into Richie and Eddie’s joyously seedy, slapstick world.
Series one: Up (Episode five)
After being asked to do a favour for their landlord, the pathetic pair are put in charge of his corner shop, leading Richie to don a white coat and an inflated sense of authority and Eddie to drink most of the profits. After angering some locals, the idiot pervs accidentally lock themselves on the roof, meaning they watch helplessly as the shop is looted and set on fire, with only a rickety old drainpipe to climb down.
Venturing into the great outdoors (well, Wimbledon Common), Eddie and Richie decide to go camping to get in touch with nature (also they lost a bet), which results in being terrorised by hedgehogs, or ‘Wombles’ as Eddie insists, eating rotting fish from the stagnant pond and being flashed by a mystery man. You’d never think a smuggled packet of Hobnobs could cause such fuss – and excessive violence.
Series two: Holy (Episode five)
It’s Christmas time in the Hammersmith hovel and after a gut-twisting festive dinner featuring Eddie’s famous ‘Vodka margarine’, Richie finds an abandoned baby at the door. Trying to placate the crying baby with the presents they’ve received for Christmas, Eddie, Dave and Spud Gun, all wearing cracker crowns, hand over a box of chocolates, novelty mask and men’s aftershave, causing Richie to have quite the revelation: “Gold, Frankenstein and Grrr… and you’re all wearing crowns. And I’m a virgin!” Cue Richie believing he’s the Virgin Mary and therefore the mother of the saviour. Forget Her Maj’s chit-chat – this should be obligatory viewing every festive season.
Also, the opening and closing credits are brilliant, boasting The Bum Notes band performing BB’s Blues and Last Night while Rik and Ade do their childish best to punch each other in the balls and push each other off screen.
Bottom is quintessentially British in the amount of joy it takes in bodily functions, humiliation and slapstick humour with two of the most loveable but disgusting characters ever created. This series is a wonderful way to remember the comedic genius of Rik Mayall and his inimitable partnership with Ade Edmondson. And may I just say, that’s a smashing blouse you have on.4808 Views
Lucy is a teacher whose dream as a child was to be WWE Wrestling Champion. That dream is still alive.