January 24, 1957
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What do you get when you combine a punk-folk singer with a wicked sense of humor? For many Brits the answer would be Adrian Edmondson. Half of one of Britain's most beloved alternative comedy duos with his long-time partner Rik Mayall, Edmondson also maintained a career as a musician combining punk fervor with an appreciation for British folk music forms. His career moved far beyond comedy to include directing, writing, and even being named Celebrity Master Chef. Edmondson first met Rik Mayall when the two were studying drama at Manchester University in 1976; together they formed the comedy troupe 20th Century Coyote. After graduation, the pair continued to work together, gradually ending up at the Soho comedy club The Comic Strip. This pioneering alternative-comedy club became known for its unique style, which became better known worldwide when Britain's Channel 4 put together a weekly show written, directed by and starring comedians known for their work at the Comic Strip, including Edmondson, Mayall, Edmondson's soon-to-be wife Jennifer Saunders, and Dawn French. The series, "The Comic Strip Presents..."(Channel 4 1982-2012) became a cult favorite and was periodically revived over the ensuing decades. Edmondson's next project was his international breakthrough. "The Young Ones" (BBC 1982-84) was a surreal comedy and music show about four students sharing a dilapidated London flat. It was filled with anarchic humor inspired by old Laurel & Hardy routines given a punky, cutting-edge sense of violence and danger inspired by Edmonson and Mayall's shockingly physical stage performances. When MTV began showing "The Young Ones" in America in 1984, Edmondson's aggro punk med student Vyvyan became his best-known character internationally. Edmondson next starred with Saunders in the short-lived "Happy Families" (BBC 1985) with Stephen Fry and Jim Broadbent. In 1986, a live performance with Mayall in their persona as The Dangerous Brothers on the variety show "Saturday Live" (Channel 4 1986-87) took an almost deadly course when a fire stunt got out of hand, costing Edmondson his eyebrows and lashes. Following one season with Mayall in the satirical comedy "Filthy, Rich & Catflap" (BBC 1987), the duo garnered their most sustained success with "Bottom" (BBC 1991-95), series about two potty-mouthed layabouts living on the dole. The show was so popular that the duo performed a live version on British stages for several years. During that time, Edmondson dabbled in dramatic acting, including stints on crime drama "Jonathan Creek" (BBC 1997-2014) and medical drama "Holby City" (BBC 1999- ). While stretching his acting career to include drama he also began to tinker in music, first as a guest performer with his childhood heroes The Bonzo Dog Band (as lead vocalist, replacing the late Vivian Stanshall) and then later with his own band The Bad Shepherds. In 2013, Edmondson won the cooking competition series "Celebrity MasterChef" (BBC 2006-).
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