2014 was the year that truly proved that the British comedy scene is an exciting place to be. But with all things in life, there have been ups and downs and the industry has lost some of its brightest talents this year.
Two of these, for myself in particular, hurt the most. Star of The Young Ones, Rik Mayall passed away suddenly on June 9th, as a result of a heart attack after his morning run. The news was a shock to everyone, especially as Rik was only 56. Rik Mayall was a shining light in the world of comedy: he was kind, clever, and never afraid to act like a fool. He didn’t take himself too seriously and managed to bring out the inner child in all who watched his hilarious on-screen performances. Television suffered a great loss when Mayall died this year, particularly as he was due to be recording a second series of the magnificently funny Man Down (starring Greg Davies, Roisin Conaty and Mike Wozniak) that summer.
Two months later, the beloved Robin Williams, who will always have a special place in my heart as Mrs Doubtfire, tragically died on August 11th after a long period of severe depression. The world was silenced to hear this, especially, I gather, people currently working as comics who had worked with him or been inspired by him when they were young.
Every generation knew Robin Williams. His acting credits are endless, including Mork and Mindy, Mrs Doubtfire and Flubber to name a few, as well as being an iconic stand up comedian. The story of what happened is heartbreaking, but at least something positive came out of it: in the days that passed after the world received the news, people slowly started tweeting, blogging and, most importantly, talking about depression. Robin Williams taught the world that mental illness is all around us, even in the places where you might not expect to find it, and his legacy as a fantastic actor and comedian will stay with us all for decades to come.
2014 brought about the natural end to various loved sitcoms. The seventh, and final, series of Not Going Out was broadcast throughout October, November and December, with the final ever episode airing on Christmas Eve. As well as this, Miranda Hart announced that the final episodes of her playfully childish television hit Miranda were to be aired on Christmas and New Year’s Day, after having spanned three series.
As if this year hadn’t had its fair share of controversies, Vine celebrity, Dapper Laughs (Daniel O’Reilly) dug himself a hole when his awful and misogynistic television show On The Pull was aired on ITV in October. The “comedian” had been previously criticised for his comments regarding women and his horrendous rape “jokes” so it was no surprise that an online petition was launched to get Dapper Laughs off of our television screens. When this petition was successful, some complained that it was a denial of free speech and a dangerous act of censorship, but quite frankly, I think the danger came from the way O’Reilly fed and encouraged rape culture through his own stupidity; in my eyes, he committed a crime. But no fear, he will, of course, be back in 2015, so he wasn’t really sorry at all.
To end on a positive note, however, for the first time in five years, Never Mind The Buzzcocks has found a permanent host in the incredible funny Rhod Gilbert. Rhod is absolutely brilliant at hosting the programme; he is eloquent, witty and sarcastic and has already been successful in developing a comfortable and, most importantly, funny atmosphere.
2014 has been a year of many surprises, some good and some bad. I hope 2015 is equally as interesting and even more funny. Happy New Year!