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Rik jokes about uni's 'terrible mistake' as he's made a doctor

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: July 10, 2008

  • 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

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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

“terrible mistake”.

Rik joins his friend, fellow Young Ones star Adrian

Edmondson and his wife Jennifer Saunders, in becoming a doctor

of letters.

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.

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