A Scotland Yard spokesman said officers were called by London Ambulance Service to a house in Barnes, south-west London at around 1.20pm where “a man, aged in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene”. The death is not believed to be suspicious, he added.
The star, who shot to fame playing Rick in The Young Ones, was 56 and his career included appearances in shows including Blackadder, Bottom, The New Statesman, Filthy Rich and Catflap as well as 1991 film Drop Dead Fred.
He was left seriously ill after a quad bike accident in 1998 which left him in a coma for several days, but worked until recently. Among his more recent appearances was in RTÉ Two’s Damo and Ivor, in which he played Ivor’s father, Alistair Itchdaddy.
Mayall, who is survived by his wife and three children, said doctors had kept him alive on a life-support machine for five days and were about to turn it off when he began to show signs of life. Mayall once joked: “I beat Jesus Christ. He was dead for three days at Easter.
“When I crashed it was the day before Good Friday, Crap Thursday, and I was technically dead until Easter Monday — that’s five days. Jesus was nailed up on Friday and came to on Easter Day. I beat him 5-3.”
Mayall started on stage in a duo, The Dangerous Brothers, with long-time collaborator Adrian Edmondson after they met at Manchester University
The pair, who appeared together in The Young Ones, reprised their original act in the anarchic comedy Bottom.
Last night, Edmondson said of Mayall: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. They were some of the most carefree, stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him. And now he’s died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard.”
Among others paying tribute to Mayall was David Walliams, who said: “I am heartbroken that my comedy idol growing up, Rik Mayall, has died. He made me want to be a comedian.”
Blackadder producer John Lloyd said Mayall was “just extraordinary”.
Speaking to BBC News, he said: “It’s really a dreadful piece of news. I remember going to the very first night of the Comedy Store and thinking ‘Where does this come from?’ It was the most extraordinary thing, him and Ade Edmondson doing the Dangerous Brothers, they were called, and you just felt you were in the presence of something, a whole revolutionary thing.” Comedy star Noel Fielding wrote: “Growing up there was no-one funnier! We will really miss you Rik Mayall you genius.” Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh wrote: “Rik Mayall spread a lot of fun and laughter. Very sad to see him taken before his time.”
Mayall, was born in Harlow, Essex, to drama teacher parents.
Other notable characters included the conniving Conservative MP Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman and feckless investigative journalist Kevin Turvey.