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Edmondson, Adrian (1957-)

Actor, Writer, Director

Main image of Edmondson, Adrian (1957-)

Comedian, writer and director Adrian Edmondson became famous through his boisterous performance of student punk Vyvyan Basterd in the iconic sitcom The Young Ones (BBC 1982, 1984), and is best known as the long- term comedy partner of Rik Mayall. Edmondson has often had to play second fiddle to Mayall's flamboyance and commanding screen presence; but he is a highly gifted comedy performer in his own right, and frequently imbues his characters with exuberant physical comedy, often staging hilarious set pieces of slapstick violence to quell Mayall's vocal obnoxiousness.

Born in Bradford in 1957, Edmondson attended a private boarding school in Yorkshire from the age of 12, before studying drama at the University of Manchester in the mid 1970s, where he met Mayall. The two formed a stand-up double act called 'Twentieth Century Coyote', which they performed in clubs around the country in the late 1970s, including The Comedy Store and The Comic Strip Club in London, which established them as part of the emergent 'alternative comedy' scene.

Edmondson made his television debut performing this act with Mayall in the second edition of Boom Boom... Out Go The Lights (BBC tx. 5/5/81). It then evolved into 'The Dangerous Brothers', which had a weekly slot in the first series of the alternative comedy variety show Saturday Live (Channel 4 1985-1987), though despite the title their material was pre-recorded.

November 1982 established Edmondson as a leading figure in British television comedy, when he appeared in the ensemble series The Comic Strip Presents... (Channel 4 1982-1988, BBC 1990-1993, Channel 4 1998, 2000), which he regularly appeared in and co-wrote, also directing the episodes 'Private Enterprise' (tx. 2/1/86) and 'More Bad News' (tx. 27/2/88)It also brought forth the first series of The Young Ones (BBC, tx. 9/11-14/12/1982), as well as his first starring role in the one-off comedy teleplay The Magnificent One (Channel 4, tx. 6/11/82).

In 1985 he starred alongside future wife Jennifer Saunders in the sitcom Happy Families (BBC, tx. 17/10-21/11/1985) as Guy Fuddle, a man on a mission to reunite his estranged family, and as Alun in Honest, Decent and True (BBC, tx. 9/2/1986), a one-off satire of the advertising industry. He rejoined his Young Ones co-stars Rik Mayall and Nigel Planer for sitcom Filthy, Rich and Catflap (BBC, tx. 7/1-11/2/1987), in which he played Eddie Catflap, the live-in minder to an underachieving but egomaniacal actor. He appeared as a down-on-his-luck aristocrat in the role-reversal comedy Snakes and Ladders (Channel 4, tx. 17/10-28/11/1989), before playing a tabloid journalist in the BAFTA winning drama News Hounds (BBC, tx. 2/9/90). The darkly comic miniseries If You See God, Tell Him (BBC, tx. 11/11-9/12/1993) saw Edmondson play the son of a man (Richard Briers) with short term memory loss.

Edmondson found his next big success when he re-teamed with Mayall for their co-scripted sitcom Bottom (BBC, 1991-1995). As Eddie Hitler, alongside Mayall's Richie Richard, Edmondson enjoyed three series and several stage outings of the violent antics of two bored unemployed flat-sharing bachelors, and their undying enmity for one another. He also directed a less successful film version of the show called Guest House Paradiso (1999) in which Eddie and Richie abortively attempt to run a hotel.

Edmondson appeared regularly in the 2003 series of Jonathan Creek (BBC, 1997-) playing television producer Brendan Baxter, and starred as Dr Roy Glover in the hospital sitcom Doctors and Nurses (BBC, 2004). He finished third in Comic Relief Does Fame Academy (BBC, 2005), a charity celebrity version of the BBC talent show, in which he performed comical renditions of various pop songs.

Edmondson is married to fellow comedian and writer Jennifer Saunders, with whom he has three daughters.

Hannah Hamad

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Selected credits

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