Dr Ahdaf Soueif, right, with Professor Rick Rylance and Associate Professor Ashley Tauchert JOHN FFOULKES
Rik Mayall now has an honorary degree from the University of Exeter JOHN FFOULKES
HE'S known for being a hilariously rebellious actor, writer
and comedian, and Rik Mayall didn't disappoint hundreds of
students and their parents when he became an honorary graduate
of Exeter University.
The Young Ones star and Devon resident thrilled the audience
with an energetic speech — even joking that his award was a
Rik joins his friend, fellow Young Ones star Adrian
Edmondson and his wife Jennifer Saunders, in becoming a doctor
Rik, 50, seemed moved by yesterday's ceremony, presided over
by university's chancellor Floella Benjamin, the TV presenter
and children's campaigner. Rik embraced her enthusiastically,
saying he thought his honorary doctorate was
“It's incredible,” he said. “I have one 11-plus, O-levels
and a doctorate.
“I've always done everything available to me, but I never
thought something like this could happen to me. I'm not a
clever person but I've got away with this for such a long
Exeter University is far removed from Scumbag College — the
fictional educational establishment attended by Rik and his
Young Ones colleagues — with an annual income of £175m and a 42
per cent rise in places on courses being taken up this
Rik was nominated for the award by another Exeter honorary
graduate, Paul Jackson, now a TV producer.
The pair met when Rik, who is also a novelist, was
performing political poetry above a strip club in London.
Paul then received Rik's scripts for the Young Ones.
“Being on TV was big in those days, there were only three
channels and you became famous overnight so I said 'yes',” said
“On my first day I met a beautiful woman in the make-up
department and we are now married with three children so I want
to thank Peter for my life.”
Paul paid tribute to Rik's “massive physical charm and
“He has been bestowed with the gift of comedy,” he said.
“When I got the script for the Young Ones it had only been 10
years or so since I had left Exeter University.
“The series was met with complete disbelief when the BBC
first saw it, but thanks to the beginning of Channel 4 they
decided to air it.
“Rik ignited this period of British comedy, making it the
new rock and roll and he is the father of the alternative
Also receiving honorary degrees yesterday were novelist
Ahdaf Soueif and Sir Martin Harris, director of the
Universities Superannuation Scheme.