Whatever Happened to the Young Ones?

Thirty-two years ago – in the heady days of a British Isles coming to terms with Thatcherism inflaming a society still recovering from flared trousers, four eager students of Scumbag College were bound together by social housing, somewhere in the artistic haven of North London. The ensuing antics of anarchist Rik (sociology), punk Vyvyan (medicine), hippy Neil (peace), and cool guy Mike (whatever suited the moment), formed the basis for 1980’s alternative classic comedy “The Young Ones”, and defined a generation whose disillusion was only matched by a crafted ability, to self-parody its effect on their world around it. 

Sadly, these escapades only lasted twelve episodes which – while brilliant, left our world oblivious to their lives post 1984. With the untimely passing of comedy genius Rik Mayall - a quarter of this collective, we shall never know what became of the fabulously awful foursome whose exams left them bottom of the whole world, after they escaped the Cliff exploded Routemaster. Stranded in the middle of the English coast homeless, hopeless and unable to devise a suitable method in cooking a hapless hippy; whatever became of that curious collective, known as The Young Ones...

Mike “The Cool Person”:
The groups designated leader and confidant, crafty con-merchant Mike found the gang money and shelter - in the form of sporadic Comic Relief performances, after explaining their predicament to Bob Geldof; who subsequently invaded the BBC with screams of “Give them ya fucking money!” Unfortunately Neil, Vyvyan and Rik were left stranded when Mike vanished with the suitcase full of fivers Bob bullied off the Krankies in forced Live Aid donation, and had to return head-down, to their original family homes. Mike's money vanished in poorly contrived get rich quick schemes, and he spent the last three decades living out of a suitcase – and sometimes in a suitcase, from places as far reaching as Carlisle to Cornwall. He never sold Buddy Holly’s guitar, but once spotted Paul Macartney munching on a Ginsters Pastie at a service station in Watford; he believes it was chicken and Mushroom. As of 2014, Mike – now grey with a friar tuck hairdo, spends his days panhandling the streets of Hampstead; pretending to be blind and only having one leg. His memory is sporadic, and he often confuses visions of Neil with Joni Mitchell, Vyvyan with a plank of wood, and Rik with a complete and total bastard; proving he at least still remembers one of them.

Neil Wheedon Watkins Pie:
The comic relief gigs managed to alight a whole new side to his hippie personality, where his angry, frustrated replies to the audience were met with barrels of laughter; assuming he was in fact, a dead-pan genius. Seduced by money, power and Jimmy Saville – who thought Neil was a pre-pubescent teenager, a series of scandals animal, vegetable and mineral occurred. Finding himself as a muddle in the middle of a nation who half-loved his cynical platitudes - while the rest believed he was Joni Mitchell, come the mid 1990’s, Neil decided to abandon his luxurious lifestyle, hand all his possession to Oxfam, and retreat to a Buddhist temple in Milton Keynes; where he still lives, rarely venturing back into the world for anything less than a Marillion reunion concert. For those who visit him on worshipping vigils, Neil always explains how much he loves everybody in the world; expect Rik – who is a complete and total bastard! 

Vyvyan Basterd:
Losing his home also meant losing his vast collection of sniffing glue and arsenic binges. Within one month, a drug and Rik free, straight haired Vyvyan found himself more composed and sound in his mind-set; even managing to work out how to tell the time with an accuracy of ten minutes apart. After legal adoption by the wealthy grandparents of Bob Geldof’s next door neighbours, Vyvyan went back to college and eventually passed his doctors degree with honours. For the past thirty years, he has worked as a GP in the town of Yateley near Reading, and has a son – Special Patrol Group, a daughter, Petrol, and a wife named Shirley. He misses Neil, still looks up to Mike, and thinks of Rik as a complete and total bastard! His favourite comedy is Bottom; as he believes a life living with Rik, would likely have turned him into Eddie Hitler.

In 2014, Rik is an obese, wife abusing bank manager, conservative stalwart, free-mason regular, Manchester United box holder, and complete and total bastard! Contrary to popular belief, his parents never died – it was a cruel yet funny prank arranged by Vyvyan. On returning home, his family sent him for private education at Oxbridge College; where sessions in how to manipulate peasants, and get away with being bummed on a regular basis, formed his eventual life's work. The People’s Poet – like the majority of privileged middle-class liberals, sold his principals for a pot of power – and became heavily corrupted by it. He has a black servant, white house, countless ladies of the night on speed dial, and the only spare set of keys in existence to Cliff Richard’s personal dungeon. His greatest achievement since 1984, was wiping Noel Edmonds bottom at a service station in Watford; even though he turned down the Ginsters Chicken and Mushroom pastie, Rik offered him. 

Jerzei Balowski:
Mister Balowski continued to rip off a succession of tenants, until one fateful day in 1992 - when his decision to exploit a group of Albanian immigrants for two hundred pounds more than they could afford; claiming a separate surcharge for viewing of each episode of Noel’s House Party, backfired. They came in peace, and left him in pieces; most of which were discovered on a country lane side road, two miles north of Doncaster.

This tragedy accidentally ignited the one and only meeting between the four – which took place at Luton crown court in 1993. Rumours of a secret will arranged by Jerzei Balowski included four names; Prick, Mike, Vyvyan, and the 'long-haired girl'. On meeting for its reading - after a collection of bruises earned in a large group fight, each one was handed a note in Jerzei’s writing which read “Haha! Made you all come to this shithole Luton, you stupid bastards! And Rik, you still owe me a Pot Noodle. Jerzei! P.S. Don’t let the long-haired girl smoke my ashes.” In the next two minutes before separating forever, there was no interaction between the group; beside Mike asking the lawyer for a succession of legal notepads, Neil smoking Jerzei's ashes, and Vyvyan ramming Rik’s head through a plastered wall – for old time’s sake. The Young Ones were no longer young, and John Major's safe and bland 1990's were far duller, than the chaotic insanity of the previous decade...

And there you have it. I am sure many of you have your own ideas on what happened to the gang, and truthfully only Ben Elton and company could really know the answers. Rik Mayall's passing leaves us all a little emptier, but also proud of the fine body of work he leaves in this rip-roaring comedy - along with Nigel Planer, Ade Edmonson, Alexi Sayle, and even Christopher Ryan. I hope you enjoy my viewpoints on the whereabouts of the Young Ones in 1984 – 2014; please leave your own in the comments section. Or just call me a complete bastard instead, and tell me why you are so much better...

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