Whatever became of Scumbag Vyvyan?

I had a friend who was a complete nutter at university; all spiked-up ginger hair, bovver boots and chains.

His party piece was eating exploding bricks. I kid you not. Once, he even demolished an entire student house to stop the council repossessing it.

And another time he completely lost his head on the way to University Challenge.

Keith Harrison

Starter for ten; Scumbag Vyvyan. Whatever became of you? I was reminded of him the other day while watching some old bloke marvelling at an old dear’s daffodils on daytime TV.

“Ooohh they’re marvellous,” beamed Mr Middle Age, before indulging in some accidental Partridge banter.

But hang on a moment. I recognise that face. It’s Vyv! Thick-rimmed specs; baldy, boring and bland.

What the hell happened to you, man? (as Neil might say). Ade Edmondson got old, that’s what.

No longer the anarchic Young One. Not even filthy rich Eddie Catflap. And long since the hammer-wielding Eddie Hitler.

Now, he’s a purveyor of Ade in Britain (geddit?), touring the nation in a trendy Mini and caravan looking at country shows, windmills, food festivals, monkey tennis, that sort of thing.

All a far cry from bashing Rik Mayall’s brains out in Bottom.

Ahhh, Rik, now there’s a national treasure; Comic Stripper, Kevin Turvey, Young One, Lord Flashheart, Alan b’Stard... all enough to forgive him those Bombardier beer ads. And still funny.

When Edmondson recently pulled the plug on a Bottom revival, his old sparring partner cuttingly observed that ‘all he wants to do is talk about walls in Yorkshire’.

“He wants to wait ten f*****g years until we’re older, but I won’t be able to see or walk by then,” piped up people’s poet Rik, before blaming Thatcher, Mr Balowski and Neil for, well, just everything Neil, OK?!

Now while some may scoff at Ade’s conversion from loveable laddish lout to boring old git, they’re missing the point. People change.

Everyone grows up and there’s nothing worse than those who refuse to accept it.

Ade, sorry, Adrian Edmondson is now 56. Richard Mayall is 55. Wouldn’t it be weird if they were still trying to be ‘down with the kids’? And embarrassing.

Besides, why bother competing with two-bob Vic ‘n’ Bob impersonator Keith Lemon for the affections of the false eyelash generation?

Better to sign up for an extended free holiday and get ITV to pay for it, eh?

Ade’s not alone. Who would recognise the Men Behaving Badly Caroline Quentin from the OTT school ma’am, poshly pottering around Cornwall between Corrie? (“She used to be funny” I told my bored kids. “She’s not any more,” deadpanned the 12-year-old in reply).

It could all be worse. Watching Paul Whitehouse hawking his heritage on those dead-behind-the-eyes insurance ads is pretty soul destroying.

Doesn’t suit you, sir.

But even there, in the depths of artistic bankruptcy, a flicker of familiarity endures and the memory of former glories keeps the flame of comedy youth alive.

A bit like when you bump into your old school’s star football player and he’s now a 20-stone shell-suit loser, wheezing in the smoking shelter. But he was brilliant back in the day. (No names mentioned, David Watts.)

Therefore, I find myself drawn to Ade’s gentle touch, even though I live in hope that one day he’ll pull out a giant rubber cricket bat and smack the old dear round the head with it.

Do it for us eighties kids Ade, while the flame is strong. Because we may not be the young ones very long.

Read Keith Harrison first in Saturday's Express & Star Weekend supplement

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