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Bottom Forever: My book on a classic British sitcom

Bottom Forever: Memories of a cult comedy classic is, as far as I know, the first book to ever be written about popular ’90s comedy series Bottom, to my mind the greatest sitcom ever made.

Adrian Peel with his Kindle book on cult 90s series Bottom. Picture: Keith Heppell
Adrian Peel with his Kindle book on cult 90s series Bottom. Picture: Keith Heppell

I started the project in 2014 following the death of one its stars, Rik Mayall, did all of the interviews for it (between 2014 and 2018), wrote part of it and then left it for a few years – for various reasons – returning to it in 2020 while furloughed during Covid-19.

Many of the actors I spoke to provided interesting recollections of their time working on the show, as did the producer of series three, Jon Plowman, who has also worked on such comedy classics as Absolutely Fabulous, The Vicar of Dibley, and The League of Gentlemen, and whom I contacted via Facebook.

One thing that all my interviewees seemed to agree on was how much fun it was working on the programme and how friendly, open and professional Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson were.

Although not everyone that I tried to get in touch with got back to me – or if they did they weren’t up for being interviewed – I did manage to speak to some who have enjoyed very successful careers.

One of these was actor Kevin McNally, who was in the very first episode as the owner of the sex shop.

He went on to become a key part of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (as Mr Gibbs) and also appeared alongside Tom Cruise in the 2008 film, Valkyrie.

Bottom Forever cover
Bottom Forever cover

Other well-known industry figures I managed to elicit answers from (I interviewed 13 people in total) included British comedy stalwart Helen Lederer, veteran star of stage and screen Roger Sloman, the aforementioned Jon Plowman, Gareth Marks, who played ‘Simon in Marketing’ in Bridget Jones’s Diary, ‘Dave Hedgehog’ himself Christopher Ryan – who also had memorable roles in The Young Ones, Absolutely Fabulous and Only Fools and Horses – and the show’s star and co-writer Adrian Edmondson.

I chatted to the latter for the Cambridge Independent in September 2018 to discuss Vulcan 7, a new play he was bringing to the Cambridge Arts Theatre, which also featured his old Young Ones colleague, Nigel Planer.

After we’d spoken about the play, I talked to him a bit about Bottom – which was something of a dream come true. I told him I thought the series was hugely underrated. “I like you,” was his reply.

Since I self-published the book in August, I have discovered that three other fans of the series had got together a couple of years ago to write a book called Talking Bottom, but I believe it’s yet to be published.

I’ve also seen recently that TV channel Gold is to broadcast a new documentary, Bottom Exposed.

It is set to be screened next year, when it will be 10 years since the untimely death of Rik Mayall, surely one of the greatest comedy talents this country’s ever produced.

It seems like Bottom might finally be getting some of the recognition it deserves.

Bottom Forever: Memories of a cult comedy classic is available now on Amazon Kindle. The good people at the British Comedy Guide were also kind enough to give it a mention at bit.ly/453ikwT.

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