It’s hard to imagine a Roald Dahl story being read aloud without hearing Rik Mayall and his inimitable voice barking out the words. It’s a safe bet that was never the intention after he was asked to read George’s Marvelous Medicine on the BBC’s Jackanory television series, nor was Rik Mayall the kind of person we’d expect to see on the show. After all, the BBC was still a very stuffy institution that seldom went against the grain, so putting the star of irreverent comedies like The Young Ones on at tea time was just unheard of. The same man who described himself as being “bigger than Hitler” was entertaining your kids, punk rock style, and they LOVED it.
Of course, complaints came piling in after it aired, calling his performance “dangerous and offensive.” But that was Rik Mayall all over. He was among the new faces of British comedy, he wasn’t someone you’d show to your Nan or have babysit your kids because there’s a good chance he’d blow them up or something equally bonkers. That’s exactly the reason he was such an excellent choice to read such an insane text.
You could imagine him in the lead role as George Kranky, brewing a concoction to feed to his cantankerous old Grandmother. Equally, you could imagine him dressed as the old bitch, sitting in her chair sucking the very life out of the room. He was perfect. The whole mess of an episode was perfect. There’s little wonder Mayall was later given his own series – Grim Tales on ITV – in which he retold classic Grimm fairy tales in a macabre fashion.
You can relive this iconic moment in the video below. Let us know your favourite Rik Mayall moments in the comments section!
George’s Marvelous Medicine Video Date: 6/1/86