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Classic Britcom: The Young Ones

Updated on August 8, 2011

Craig's Guide to Britcoms

The Young Ones was a situation comedy about four extremely goofy college students who shared a terribly run down North London flat in the early 1980s. It was written by Rik Mayall, Lise Mayer, and Ben Elton. The show ran for two series of six episodes each on BBC from November 1982 through June 1984.

The Young Ones starred Rik Mayall as socialist poet “Rik,” Adrian Edmonson as punk rocker “Vyvyan Basterd,” Nigel Planer as depressed hippie “Neil Pye,” and Christopher Ryan as ladies man, “Mike-The Cool Person.” Alexei Sayle played members of the Blawoski family, usually Jerzei Balowski, the anguished landlord in search of a long overdue rent payment.

Countless musical guests appeared and performed as themselves on the show in the frequent interludes in the storylines. The show also featured many guest stars who were on their way up, career-wise, and some who went on to become quite famous, such as Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson.

The storylines usually involved “the lads” trying to come up with some scheme to earn quick and easy money and/or endear themselves with the ladies at “Scumbag College,” where they seemingly never attended classes or studied.

The Young Ones was named after a Cliff Richard's song. Rik Mayall’s character was a huge fan of Richards, who frequently came up in the show’s dialogue.

The show captured the anarchic and surreal tensions of the time, as well as the groundswell of socioeconomic despair that was the United Kingdom of the 1980s.

It broke ground with a high-energy, irreverent style that often included:

  • Performers stepping out of scene and talking directly to the cameras (i.e. breaking the fourth wall);
  • Inanimate objects becoming puppets with comedic asides to the action;
  • “Flash frames,” changes in the frame rate of the video, done simply to mock people’s fear of subliminal messages, and
  • Slapstick violence that would have made the Three Stooges tremble in fear.

The show was syndicated and aired in the United States, including MTV.

In the 2004 BBC Poll, The Young Ones was voted best comedy.

DVDs are available through many online retailers and The Young Ones is available via Netflix.

If you like wild, high energy comedy, you will really enjoy this BBC classic.


Rik Mayall:

Adrian Edmondson:

Nigel Planer:

Mike Ryan:

Alexei Sayle:

Ben Elton:

The Young Ones 1982-1984

"Boring Cornflakes"

It's My Room


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