…and playing the bass guitar is my game.
Rik Mayall died this week, suddenly.
One of his best character observations was Colin Grigson.
Colin, I believe was a later version of Young Ones’ Rick, in that he was insecure to the core and quite self-interested to the point of being unable to work as a team. In fact most of Mayall’s characters suffer a kind of not-cool neurosis.
They are all bluster and deliver little by way of results, but none of them are a reptile like David Brent because they lack the cruelty needed for that level of shitheadedness—except for Alan B’Stard. He is a full-blown sociopath, and Mayall plays this to perfection.
Colin is essentially a bank tosser—he works for the man and follows stringent rules. In his other life he is in a heavy metal band called Bad News. Bad News are mostly famous in the mainstream for covering Bohemian Rhapsody. As Comic Strip films, however, there’s a lot more going on than just slapstick metal.
He still lives at home with mummy and because of his real career and residential status, he is constantly trying to cover up his uncoolness. This is where I think there are ties with the other characters, even Alan, because he too is a Janus character and needs to remember which face he is wearing at any given time.
The humour in this, as in normal life, is that sometimes the wrong mask is on and of course, he gets caught out. Then there is the pantomime of trying to gain back control of the situation. Politicians do this all the time, but have ‘people’ to help out, whereas Colin does not. He doesn’t really have any friends, even.
The other aspect to the brilliance of Colin is that The Bad News Tour and More Bad News are documentaries, and so there’s lots of scope for endless unscripted fuck-ups from start to finish.
Considering that the lead singer Vim and rhythm guitarist Den are painters and decorators by day and the drummer Spider appears to be some kind of transient, there’s not much hope for this band. Plus, they are hopelessly uncreative and disorganised because of the love for Double Diamond lager and poppadoms.
Colin remains eternally hopeful. This is best highlighted in the audio release Bootleg where there is endless in-fighting and the thing that disturbs Colin the most is not the lack of progress but the foul language. This exact same thing would have shocked Rick and Richie Rich too. Even Alan B’Stard, who, to a degree, has standards.
What Colin does is sum up the ethos of metal in its heyday—”just another heavy metal day” he proclaims as he cranks up his sound system, a durrie and rocks out in his undies at his mother’s house, in his single bed. The other image of metal freedom that springs to mind is ‘The Beast’— the tour van decked out by Vim and Spider in leopard skin and skulls. Who wouldn’t, right now, like to dive in the back of one of those with a hundred pints of lager, four poppadoms and some vibes?
Long live the spirit of Colin Grigson, in rock n roll, in the ordinary workplaces we need to get out of but can’t and in the drinking of 100 pints of lager we know we shouldn’t but do.
Listen here to “Brian’s Got the Key” for a brightly optimistic Colin even though his band mates have locked him in the studio.