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Bottom (TV series)

Bottom is an award-winning British sitcom of the early 1990s (and later a series of stage shows), written by and starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, as the crude and mentally insane Richie and Eddie; two desperate flatmates on the dole. The programme ran for three series on the BBC, spawned five live stage tours between 1993 and 2003, and a film adaptation in 1999 entitled Guest House Paradiso. All the material is now available on VHS and DVD.

Controversial in nature, Bottom is noted for its intentionally crude and highly violent slapstick.

Cast & Characters

Main article: list of characters in Bottom

Recurring characters:

Plot

Richie and Eddie are two crude, perverted lunatics, with no job, no money and only a filthy flat in Hammersmith, West London to their name. The twosome spend their time beating up each other and getting into dodgy deals and scraps with the law.

Richie is both deranged & desperate, obsessed with sex, but never having it, despite the great lengths he goes to try and get it. Eddie meanwhile spends his time getting drunk and wasting the dole money, usually on porn magazines. His friends are the gormless Spud-gun and Dave Hedgehog, both of which fear Richie, thinking he's psychotic.

Origins and production

The idea for Bottom was spawned when, in 1991, Mayall and Edmondson co-starred in the West End production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the Queen's Theatre. Mayall and Edmondson have said Bottom was often intended to be more than just a series of toilet gags but a cruder cousin to plays like Waiting for Godot, about the pointlessness of life.

However, the origins of the characters are rooted much more deeply. Mayall and Edmondson had been working together since the late 1970s, when they teamed up as "20th Century Coyote". Over the course of their career, they developed the characters of Richie and Eddie, based loosely on their own relationship. The names themselves come from Mayall's and Edmondson's own nicknames for each other - many of Mayall's characters are referred to by some variation of the name "Richard" and "Eddie" is taken from "Eddie Monsoon", Edmondson's nickname since University, which is a play on his surname (compare Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous, who is called "Eddie" by her friend Patsy, and is played by Edmondson's wife Jennifer Saunders). Edmonson played an unrelated character also called Eddie Monsoon in the second series of The Comic Strip in the episode called Eddie Monsoon: A Life.

The duo would use characters similar to Eddie and Richie in The Young Ones (Rick and Vyvyan, 1982 & 1984); The Dangerous Brothers (Sir Richard Dangerous and Sir Adrian Dangerous, 1985); Filthy Rich and Catflap (Richie Rich and Eddie Catflap, 1987); Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door (names not mentioned, 1988); and finally in their adaptation of Waiting for Godot (1991). The series also continued an occasional trend (started with Vyvyan in The Young Ones) of Edmonson's character having a female name - in this case Edward Elizabeth Hitler.

Mayall and Edmondson originally planned to call the series Your Bottom, intending viewers to say such things as "I saw Your Bottom on television last night". Eventually they settled for just Bottom, which both suited the low comedy of the series, and the fact that Richie and Eddie were 'at the bottom of life's heap'. It also provided the ability to produce episodes titled "'s Up" and "'s Out".

There are indications that the third broadcast episode, 'Contest', is actually the pilot, the first episode to be filmed. Hints of this include Eddie actually having short hair instead of being bald (and having no sideburns), Richie having shorter hair, and subtle differences to the set, like the Hammond organ facing the camera instead of being placed against the back wall. Additionally the shop fascia visible from the living room window says 'Tandoori' whereas in other episodes it reads 'Kebab'. There is also a noticeable difference in the film quality of this episode compared to other episodes in Series One.

The series was scripted and filmed at thirty-five minutes, with it being edited down to thirty minutes in post production. The original length scripts can be found in the several script books released, and several completely removed scenes were included in the 'Fluff' VHS release that consisted mostly of bloopers and out-takes. Several (but not all) of these scenes, as well as some smaller sections of dialogue also removed for timing reasons, have been re-inserted for DVD releases (although the packaging does not promote this fact).

The final episode of the second season, "'S Out", was not shown as part of the original broadcasts nor initial repeat run. The episode was set on Wimbledon Common, and involved Richie and Eddie encountering a flasher; on July 15 1992, after the episode was filmed but before it had aired, Rachel Nickell was sexually assaulted and murdered in front of her young son on the Common. Out of sensitivity, and with a hunt for the killer in progress, the BBC decided not to broadcast the episode at that time. It first appeared on the VHS release of series two, before finally being shown for the first time as part of a re-run of season two on 10 April 1995, following the first run of the third series.

Following season two, the series went out of production, with Edmonson and Mayall concentrating on other solo projects, as well as starting the very popular Bottom stage shows; but the series had been so well received that in late 1994, a third season was written and filmed, and broadcast at the start of 1995.

Despite Richie and Eddie seemingly being killed at the end of season three (something which also happened in the episode "Hole", only for them to reappear unharmed in the following episode), a fourth season was written, but turned down by the BBC.

Episodes list

The following is a list of all the episodes of Bottom. Every episode's name is meant to be a suffix to the word Bottom.

Series 1 (1991)

Title First broadcast Synopsis
Smells 1991-09-17 Richie and Eddie take advantage of a revolutionary new sex-spray and head to the Pub.
Gas 1991-09-24 After accidentally beating up the Gas Man, Richie and Eddie must remove an illegal gas tube without disturbing their violent neighbour.
Contest 1991-09-30 The pair place a bet on the "Miss World" contest.
Apocalypse 1991-10-07 Richie receives bad news from a Gypsy fortune teller.
Bottom's Up 1991-10-14 Richie and Eddie are left in charge of their landlord's shop.
Accident 1991-10-28 Richie breaks his leg, but is determined not to let it spoil his birthday celebrations. [The first ambulance scene was filmed in Aldershot during the development of The Galleries]

Series 2 (1992)

Title First broadcast Synopsis
Digger 1992-10-01 Richie secures a date by pretending to be an aristocrat
Culture 1992-10-08 Richie and Eddie must entertain themselves when the TV is 'taken away'
Burglary 1992-10-15 Richie and Eddie catch a burglar
Parade 1992-10-22 Richie and Eddie get free money from an identity parade
Holy 1992-10-29 Richie and Eddie experience a Christmas day miracle
Bottom's Out 1995-04-10 Richie and Eddie go camping.

Series 3 (1995)

Title First broadcast Synopsis
Hole 1995-01-06 Richie and Eddie are trapped at the top of the tallest Ferris wheel in western Europe which is due to be blown up the very next day.
Terror 1995-01-13 The pair plan a Halloween party and go trick or treating.
Break 1995-01-20 The duo prepare for their holidays
Dough 1995-01-27 Eddie begins forging money, and as a result the duo and their friends must enter a pub quiz, to pay off a thug.
Finger 1995-02-03 The pair go on a romantic weekend away disguised as Mr and Mrs Cannonball Taffy O'Jones
Carnival 1995-02-10 Richie and Eddie have the best seats for the annual Hammersmith riots and then try to make videos for the BBC

The stage shows

Five live theatre shows have been spun off from the television series, and have been extremely popular. The two performers often corpse and forget their lines and have to ad lib. (Most notably in the 1993 live show in which the duo try and get through about three scripted lines in seven minutes). Drawing on their long history of working together they ad lib to throw the other, and as a way to keep their performance fresh. References to their real lives and histories (most notably Mayall's coma due to a quad bike accident) are common.

These productions are far cruder than the television incarnation, and feature new elements such as Richie's latent bisexuality and occasional desire to have sex with Eddie (it can be presumed that, by this stage, Richie has become so desperate to have sex that he is willing to do it with anyone or anything, in the second stage show he attempted to get The Queen to have sex with him).

A performance of each live show was recorded and released on VHS and later DVD. These shows have now been shown on Dave.

Title Year Recording location
Bottom Live 1993 Southampton
Bottom Live: The Big Number Two Tour 1995 Oxford
Bottom Live 3: Hooligan's Island 1997 Bristol
Bottom Live 2001: An Arse Oddity 2001 Nottingham
Bottom Live 2003: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts Tour 2003 Southend

Guest House Paradiso

Following the 1997 "Hooligan's Island" tour, Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson wrote a spin-off movie together, which Edmondson directed, entitled Guest House Paradiso, released in 1999. Strangely, the DVD release was advertised as the "Bottom movie", although this had been denied on its cinema release. Nevertheless, despite the characters being given new surnames ("Richard Twat" - which he insists is pronounced "Thwaite" - and "Eddie Elizabeth Ndingobamba"), they are effectively the same characters, transposed to the situation of running a grotty remote Guest House next to a nuclear power plant. The style of humour was very much in the same vein as Bottom, with a storyline of the pair feeding guests radioactive fish, causing massive amounts of vomiting.

Future of Bottom

Though the pair are currently working apart, a fourth season was written, but the BBC declined the script, despite announcing that Bottom would return in a voice-over during the end-credits of the original broadcast of the final episode. (Mayall has commented, in typical style, that it was "rejected by some lesbian bitch"). Edmondson has, however, stated in interviews that he would like to make another season of Bottom with Mayall, but "in about fifteen years' time, when they are old men." Rik Mayall maintains that they will work together again in the future, they just need "a good idea."

However, in December 2004, almost exactly one year after the Weapons Grade Y-Fronts tour had ended, Adrian Edmondson told the British Daily Mirror newspaper that the pair felt it was "[...] definitely time to stop. We're both getting too old. We both realised that the show wasn't as engaging as it used to be. We were starting to look a bit ridiculous. [...] We're both nearly fifty and we're starting to feel slightly undignified talking about wanking and knobs constantly. This statement may indicate the end of the long-running stage shows, but leaves possibility for a return to the small screen at some point.

See also

External links

References

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