A new documentary will explore why the friendship between Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall proved a hit with audiences in the “tempestuous and anarchic” 90s comedy Bottom.
Comedians Edmondson and Mayall, who met at Manchester University, were two hapless and disgusting flatmates in the slapstick sitcom which ran from 1991 to 1995.
Edmondson will revisit the show in comedy channel Gold’s Bottom: Exposed, which features footage that has never been broadcast, stories from filming and a look at the relationship between the two lead actors.
The 67-year-old, who also appeared in The Young Ones with Mayall, said: “A long time ago, deep in the mists of time, two blokes – I was one of them, Rik Mayall was the other – decided to make a career out of beating the shit out of each other.
“It was a tempestuous, an anarchic and occasionally quite a dangerous time – we both required hospital treatment on occasion – but above all, it was bloody good fun. We made each other laugh and, luckily for us, we made audiences laugh.
“This programme seeks to get to the bottom of why it worked.”
Mayall, who died age 56 in 2014, was also known for the comedy series Believe Nothing and Filthy Rich & Catflap, with Edmondson, and black comedy Drop Dead Fred, about an girl’s imaginary friend that reappears when she is in an adult.
The Gold special will be narrated by presenter, comedian and actor Stephen Fry, who Mayall worked with in Blackadder when he played Lord Flashheart and The New Statesman as Alan B’Stard MP.
Former Bottom cast members Absolutely Fabulous actress Helen Lederer, Pirates Of The Caribbean film series star Kevin McNally, theatre actor Roger Sloman, The Bill actress Lisa Maxwell and EastEnders actor Paul Bradley will also talk about the show.
Bottom producer and series director Ed Bye, who also worked on science fiction comedy Red Dwarf, is also among the contributors.
In the original show, Edmondson as Edward “Eddie” Elizabeth Hitler and Mayall as Richard “Richie” Richard often failed to romance women while being unemployed and living in Hammersmith, London.
The duo rarely leave the flat, meaning its largely a self-contained show.
When the two friends, who are also frequently trying to hurt each other physically and emotionally, do venture out they are mainly seen at the local pub, The Lamb and Flag.
Mayall and Edmondson continued to reprise their awful characters in various stage shows but attempts at a TV revival proved unsuccessful.
A film, Guest House Paradiso, which sees them run a guest house was released in 1999.
In August 2012, the BBC announced the Bottom characters would return in a show called Hooligan’s Island, based on their stage show where they end up being shipwrecked, but within weeks Edmondson had ruled it out.
They had briefly appeared together a year earlier on Let’s Dance For Comic Relief, when Mayall hit him over the head with a frying pan during a routine, echoing the outrageous behaviour of their characters.
The 120-minute documentary will also see fans such as comedians Chris McCausland and Maisie Adam reflect on the show and its impact on the sitcom genre.
Executive producer Matt Crook, managing director of Studio Crook, said: “It was such a huge show and has never had a documentary until now, so we feel incredibly privileged and excited to be given this opportunity by UKTV to work with Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall’s estate to celebrate one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.”
Bottom: Exposed will air on Gold later this year.
The Bottom boxset will also be available on Sky, Virgin and NOW.