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Quad bike accident
On 9 April 1998, Mayall was injured after crashing a quad bike near his home in Devon. Mayall's daughter Bonnie and her cousin had asked him to take them for a ride on the bike – a Christmas gift from his wife – but he refused due to rain, and went alone. Mayall's wife Barbara looked out the window and saw him lying on the ground with the bike. Believing he was joking she initially left him for a few minutes. He was in a coma for several days. Mayall was airlifted to Plymouth's Derriford Hospital, with two haematomas and a fractured skull. During the following 96 hours, Mayall was kept sedated to prevent movement which could cause pressure on his brain. His family was warned he could die or have brain damage.
After five days doctors felt it safe to bring Mayall back to consciousness. In his 2005 spoof biography, Mayall claims he "rose from the dead". During Mayall's hospitalization, the Comic Strip special Four Men in a Car was broadcast for the first time. The film involves Mayall's character being hit by a car. Mayall and Edmondson have joked about this event in stage versions of Bottom, Edmondson quipping: 'If only I'd fixed those brakes properly', and Mayall referring to himself: 'You must know him, that tosser who fell off the Quad Bike'. The pair wrote the first draft of their feature film Guest House Paradiso while Mayall was hospitalised. They planned to co-direct but Edmondson took on the duties himself. Mayall returned to work doing voice-overs. His first post-accident acting job was in the 1998 Jonathan Creek Christmas special, as DI Gideon Pryke, a role he reprised in 2013.
Edmondson added: "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."