The best musical moments from The Young Ones

12 November 2022, 21:00

The Young Ones: Nigel Planer as Neil, Rik Mayall as Rick, Christopher Ryan as Mike and Ade Edmondson as Vyvyan
The Young Ones: Nigel Planer as Neil, Rik Mayall as Rick, Christopher Ryan as Mike and Ade Edmondson as Vyvyan. Picture: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Take a look at the most amazing, most bizarre performances from the classic 1980s comedy series.

The Young Ones only ran for two series - in 1982 and 1984 - but made a huge impression on TV comedy. It claimed to be a sitcom about four students making their way through college in Thatcher’s Britain - but it was also surreal, anarchic, infantile and very, very funny.

Based around the foursome of the annoying, self-righteous Rick (played by the late great Rik Mayall), the knuckle-headed heavy metal loving medical student Vyvyan (Ade Edmondson), neurotic and outdated ultra-hippy Neil (Nigel Planer) and sleazy, creepy and far too old to be at college Mike (played by Christopher Ryan), the show was one of the first glimpses of the new “alternative” comedy that was ripping through the nation’s clubs.

A typical moment from The Young Ones in the 1984 episode "Cash"
A typical moment from The Young Ones in the 1984 episode "Cash". Picture: Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the key reasons why The Young Ones appealed to “the kids” was the plentiful inclusion of references to music, pop stars and even performances from the most interesting bands of the day. Here some are the best bits…

  1. Motörhead - Ace Of Spades (from “Bambi”)

    Suddenly releasing they need to be in Manchester to appear on the TV quiz show University Challenge, the quartet rush to the local train station to the strains of Lemmy’s finest moment.

    Motorhead on The Young Ones - Ace Of Spades HQ

  2. Madness - Our House (from “Sick”)

    The Nutty Boys were the only band to appear on the show twice - their second appearance coincides with the eruption of a huge riot in the street, while the guys suffer indoors with a very nasty case of the flu.

    Madness - Our House (on the Young Ones).

  3. Elephant Head’s Brief Bid For Fame (from “Summer Holiday”)

    The guys went all out for anarchic strangeness in the very final episode of the series - and this was one of the weird highlights. Neil moans extensively that everyone has forgotten his birthday, someone vandalises the TV picture, the screen is wiped clean, which leaves the stage clear for… who exactly? (Legend has it that it’s none other than Ade Edmonson under the ridiculous pachydermal garb).

    Young Ones - Elephant Head

  4. Alexei Sayle - Dr Marten’s Boots (from “Oil”)

    The other main star of The Young Ones was Liverpool stand-up Alexei Sayle, who played various members of the insane Balowski family and also threw in a couple of songs. This was Sayle’s contribution to the “benefit” for the downtrodden workers (ie Rick and Neil) who were digging for oil in the basement of the student house. The Scouse comedian had released an album called Cak! before the first series of The Young Ones aired, which included much of his stand-up set, including this tribute to the quality footwear, which in 1982 retailed for only 19 pounds and 99p.

  5. The Damned - Video Nasty (from “Nasty”)

    Vyvyan has “borrowed” a highly-expensive new video recorder for the weekend, but is distracted by the arrival of a package that contains Alexei Sayle dressed as a vampire. Confused? Then here’s goth rockers The Damned with an ode to the violent videos that were apparently corrupting “the kids” in 1984. The song was specially written for the show and would feature one of the last appearances by founder member Captain Sensible for a number of years.

    The Damned - Nasty (Clip from The Young Ones)

  6. A Brief Appearance By The Human League (from “Interesting”)

    In 1982, The Human League’s third album Dare was a million-seller and spawned the huge hit Don’t You Want Me? It was natural then, that Rick had a copy to play at his house party. Cue the police.

    The party - The Young Ones - BBC comedy