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British comic actor Rik Mayall dies aged 56

LONDON (Reuters) - Rik Mayall, the comic actor who pioneered a new wave of British television comedy in the 1980s, died on Monday, aged 56, his management company said.

Famed for his anarchic comic style, Mayall co-wrote and starred in the BBC sit-com "The Young Ones", played the corrupt but suave politician Alan B'Stard in "The New Statesman" and made notable appearances alongside Rowan Atkinson in "Blackadder".

His management company did not give the cause of death but said further details would be released soon. Mayall had a serious quad bike accident in 1998 which left him in a coma for five days.

He was one of a generation who performed what came to be known as "alternative comedy" - off-beat, often surreal and, particularly in Mayall's case, violently slapstick - routines in London's Comedy Store club, with his long-time comic partner Adrian Edmondson, Alexi Sayle and the female double-act Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

That troupe went on to successful TV careers, largely sweeping aside a previous generation of more traditional acts.

Mayall made a brief foray into Hollywood in the 1991 movie Drop Dead Fred, starring as a young woman's obnoxious imaginary friend, but was unable to recreate the enormous success he enjoyed in Britain.

His edgy, aggressive performances were an inspiration to a generation that followed. David Walliams, co-creator of "Little Britain", one of the BBC’s most successful comedy sketch shows of recent years, tweeted: "I am heartbroken that my comedy idol growing up Rik Mayall has died. He made me want to be a comedian."

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs and Michael Roddy; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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