This article is from the The Young Ones FAQ, by Andrew Wong BritCom@audiophile.com with numerous contributions by others.
Rik Mayall said he chose to use students because he wanted to use an
excuse to have four people sitting around all day for a sitcom, and he
felt it wasn't the right time to have a comedy series about people on the
dole (unemployed). "I wanted them to be privileged, and for people to hate
Rik on his character: "Rick rants and raves, he's over-energetic,
unpredictable and quick tempered. I was a bit like that when I was, say,
15. I wouldn't say he's popular though. For kids, he's just as easy to
identify with. When people come up to us in the street, Neil is the one
they warm to. The back away from me slightly..."
He also said in a recent interview to The Observer that: "There are few
women in those shows, but the reason for that is that I fulfil the woman's
role. Adrian is the man and I am the woman. If you look at The Young Ones
it was a nuclear family. Mike was the dad, Neil was the mum, Vyv was the
little boy and Rick was the little girl, complete with pigtails."
(The following taken from an interview with Geoff Posner)
Though it appeared risky at the time to have Christopher Ryan as Mike, as
Geoff Posner points out : "Mike was very different to the others. He was
the one who always rose above the scrapes. He'd always find a way out ...
In fact, the only strange thing about any of the casting was Alexei Sayle.
If you look at his performances as the Balowski family they're very much
of the 'I'm just dropping in to do a bit, then I'm dropping out again'
variety. They're unashamed monologues which were completely unrelated to
anything else. Luckily, they were also very funny."
Reason for its' success : "Up until then, all sitcoms were full of nice
people being nice to each other. But suddenly here were four people who
were constantly arguing and hitting each other and although there was a
lot of criticism about the language and the violence, deep down at the
root of it all there was a basis of truth. Of course it was all
exaggerated but ... if you look at recent programmes like The Living Soap
(BBC2's attempt at to replicate MTV's Real World), that is the way that
some people behave when they live together."
Would it get made today?: "No, without a shadow of a doubt. Nowadays
there's too much emphasis on cost, on being accountable for everything.
People would be terrified of even trying it just in case it didn't get a
favourable reaction ... These days at the BBC there is a hell of a lot of
interference from people who may or may not have experience in the field
but who've graduated to senior positions and feel their voice should be
heard, and of course a project like this can only be won because - as in
Paul Jackson's case - it was an individual vision that had been fought