Ade Edmondson tells Graham Norton about The Young Ones stunts and meeting surprise fan Joni Mitchell

Virgin Radio

7 Oct 2023, 12:20

Comedian Ade Edmondson has shared the best and bizarre moments of his life and career in his new memoir Berserker!

In the new book, out now, Ade traces his journey through life and comedy: starting out on the alternative scene, getting arrested in Soho, creating his outrageously violent characters and learning more about his curious (possibly Scandinavian) heritage. The memoir includes star-studded anecdotes and a playlist of pop hits.

Out of those anecdotes, Edmondson reminisces about his time on the comedy circuit with friend Rik Mayall, who he went on to make beloved sitcom The Young Ones.

While on The Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose, the writer revealed that despite working in comedy, a lot of The Young Ones involved perhaps more rather hare-brained stunts than satire. 

Ade explained to Graham: “My daughter read the book and she came up to me and said: ‘Dad, I never realised you were never really a comedian, you were a stuntman’, and I was I think!

“There's an episode of The Young Ones where Rik and I are fighting each other again all around the house… we crashed through the ceiling into the kind of kitchen set on a bed and we did it for real, it's just bizarre to think of. It’s a 25ft drop in a kind of metal crate with some boxes in it and a bit of bedding, if you look very carefully, I mean it's one shot and if you look, we get out straight away and start fighting but if you really slow it down, you can see that we're absolutely winded.”

The Young Ones starred the likes of Alexei Sayle, Nigel Planer and Christopher Ryan, and featured slapstick gags, visual humour and surreal jokes. 

The series, which ran for 12 episodes, wasn’t just loved by the Brits but also had some very famous fans too. 

While in Los Angeles working on a music video for a band called The Innocence Mission, Ade ended up bumping into legendary folk artist Joni Mitchell, who was more than happy to see the star, so happy in fact, the two shared a rather intimate moment. 

Ade added: “She started to stride towards me in a threatening manner, which broke into a run of fists kind of pumping. And I thought, ‘I really don't know what's happening here. But it's gone very badly wrong. I think she's going to hurt me.’ By the time she eventually got to me and she just threw her arms around me, hugged me in a way that I've very rarely been hugged, just so tightly and lovingly, and I was thinking she's got the wrong man.

“Then she sort of held me at arm's length and came back in for a kiss, kissed me on the lips. She held me and said, ‘Adrian, whenever we have Young Ones parties, I always play Vyvyan.' Can you imagine that?”

On why now felt like the perfect time to share some of these moments within his first memoir, Ade admitted it happened almost as an accident. 

“I never really wanted to write one,” he said. “Then when lockdown happened… I sort of had a moment of Zen like meditational, calm and the buzz that has been in my head since I was 12 disappeared and I think I had a moment of enlightenment. In the evenings, I was filling it with scanning every photograph in the house to make an archive for the family and sort of all the memories and stories coming in. The book just kind of poured out to me and was really quite cathartic and really good fun.”

Berserker!, the new memoir by Ade Edmondson, is out now. 

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