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Bottom (1991-92, 1995)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Bottom (1991-92, 1995)
BBC, 17/9/1991-10/2/1995
18 x 30 min episodes in three series, colour
DirectorsEd Bye
 Bob Spiers
ProducersEd Bye
 Jon Plowman
ScriptRik Mayall
 Adrian Edmondson

Cast: Rik Mayall (Richie Richard); Adrian Edmondson (Eddie Hitler); Christopher Ryan (Dave Hedgehog); Steven O'Donnell (Spudgun); Lee Cornes (Dick Head)

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The miserable lives of impoverished, sex-starved flatmates Richie Rich and Eddie Hitler.

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Stultifying boredom, sexual frustration, rage, pain and destruction characterised the lives of the charmless unemployed bottom-feeders Richard Richard and Edward Hitler in Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson's self-penned Bottom.

Richie and Eddie are best friends but, having lived in each other's pockets for most of their lives, they loathe each other with a venom that commonly results in extreme domestic punch-ups. They delude themselves that they are fantastically attractive, suave and sophisticated, but in reality they are vile, socially inept chauvinists with appalling personal hygiene and no redeeming qualities. They are continually surprised by their repeated failure to attract women despite their relentlessly enthusiastic endeavours, including a dating agency and a dubiously-named aphrodisiac spray.

Episodes also centred on their pathetic attempts to make money by gambling, stealing, swindling or waiting for relatives to die - anything but actually working. Most of the comedy lay in the cartoonish slapstick violence that Richie and Eddie would frequently inflict upon each other, and the perennial recourse to toilet humour and jokes about body parts. Another recurring gag was Richie's implausible claim to have fought in the Falklands conflict.

Unashamedly crude, vulgar and infantile, Bottom tended to divide audiences, but the two leads have a gift for physical comedy that has often been undervalued, and television has never before or since seen a pair of such irredeemably grotesque 'heroes'. Richie and Eddie's violent interplay was a culmination of a succession of previous Mayall-Edmondson double acts: 'The Dangerous Brothers', their stage act from their early Comedy Store days, Vyvyan and Rik in The Young Ones (BBC, 1982-84), and namesakes Richie and Eddie in Filthy Rich and Catflap (BBC, 1987).

The last episode of the second series, 'Bottom's Out', in which Richie and Eddie attempt to camp on Wimbledon Common for a week as a bet, was withheld from broadcast following the murder of Rachel Nickell there. It was eventually shown more than two years later (tx. 10/04/1995).

A big-screen adaptation, Guest House Paradiso (d. Edmondson, 1999), with Richie and Eddie disastrously attempting to run a hotel, was critically mauled, but a stage version toured British theatres to appreciative audiences.

Hannah Hamad

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Video Clips
1. Gas man (1:49)
2. Disposing of the body (2:53)
3. Next door (4:03)
Complete episode: 'Gas' (29:27)
Filthy Rich and Catflap (1987)
Young Ones, The (1982-84)
Edmondson, Adrian (1957-)
Mayall, Rik (1958-)
Spiers, Bob (1945-2008)
Alternative Comedy