Rik Mayall: Comedian ‘May Have Died After Fit’
The star, who died on Monday, is understood to have suffered from epilepsy after a near-fatal quad bike accident in 1998.
Video: Rik Mayall and his wife of 25 years Barbara Robbin
Gallery: Comedian Rik Mayall Dies
Rik Mayall’s wife has said a fit may have caused the comedian’s sudden death at their home on Monday.
The world of comedy has paid tribute to the “genius” who shot to fame playing the poetry writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones and went on to have a glittering television career.
It is not yet known what caused the 56-year-old’s death but Barbara Robbin suggested it could be related to a quad bike accident which nearly killed her husband 18 years ago.
Speaking outside their home in Barnes, southwest London, Ms Robbin said: “We don’t know yet what happened.
“He had a strong heart so I don’t think it was a heart attack. But we just don’t know until the coroner’s report.
“Maybe he had a fit, maybe it was his heart. We just don’t know.”
It is understood Mayall suffered from epilepsy after the 1998 accident which caused two brain haemorrhages and left him in a coma for five days.
Speaking about the accident, Mayall said doctors had kept him alive on a life-support machine for five days and were about to turn it off when he began to show signs of life.
He used to mark the occasion by exchanging presents with his wife and children and said the near-death experience changed his life.
He said: “The main difference between now and before my accident is I’m just very glad to be alive.”
It is not known when a post-mortem examination is due to take place.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said officers were called by London Ambulance Service to a house in Barnes where “a man, aged in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene”.
He added the death was not believed to be suspicious.
Mayall and Ms Robbin, who is a make-up artist, have been married since 1985 and have three children, Rosie, Sidney and Bonnie.
Mayall’s Comic Strip Presents colleague and friend Peter Richardson, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that his son had seen him “happily chatting away” around half an hour before he died.
He said the star “loved playing the bad boy”, but was very different in real life.
“He always wanted to be a rebel but in fact was a lovely family man who did the washing up and was just a very warm person and not as selfish and vain as he liked to make out.”
Close friend and long-time collaborator Adrian Edmondson paid tribute to the star, saying he felt privileged to have shared “carefree stupid days” with Mayall at Manchester University, where the pair studied.
He said: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him. And now he’s died for real. Without me. Selfish b*****d.”