rik mayall
The comedian Rik Mayall, who has died aged 56 BBC

mayall cartoon
Surreal... the cartoon "don't fear death", with a voice-over by Rik Mayall, who has died aged 56 YouTube

In one of his last pieces of work, created just months before his death at the age of 56, comedian and writer Rik Mayall made light of death in a surreal cartoon. "Don't Fear Death", made for Channel 4, features the voice of the funnyman espousing the benefits of being dead, including: "You'll never have to waste one more single soul-crushing hour in your mindless dead-end job. Fashion, extreme diets, make-up: they'll be a thing of the past!"

Though he made light of death, having survived a near-fatal accident on his quad bike in 1998, Mayall's passing has saddened many of his peers, who regarded the star of "The Young Ones", "Blackadder" and "The New Statesman" as one of the most gifted of his age.

Mark Gatiss tweeted: "Half of the fake moustache I'm currently wearing has just come off in tribute to Lord Flasheart. So long, Rik Mayall." Lenny Henry wrote, "So sad to hear the news about Rik Mayall…he was truly magnificent. R.I.P."

Perhaps the most poignant tribute came from Mayall's long-time comedy partner Ade Edmondson, with whom he starred in The Young Ones, Bottom and the Dangerous Brothers, who said: "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."

Towards the end of the cartoon, which can be seen on YouTube, Mayall makes a final rallying call on behalf of the grim reaper. "So, you see? Death is not the curse that it used to be. It is your passport to complete and utter freedom. No pulse! No responsibilities! Just you, your body and an endless stretch of glorious unfettered time to do whatever you like in whenever you like!"