Rik Mayall was happy and healthy in the hours leading up to his death, a friend of the actor revealed yesterday.
Comic Strip Presents… colleague Peter Richardson, who directed Mayall in a series of TV shows, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme his son saw the star around half an hour before he died.
Richardson said: “He was happily chatting away and it was very quick and we still don’t quite know what happened but it was a seizure of some sort.”
Mayall, who shot to fame playing poetry-writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones, was found dead at his home in London on Monday.
Yesterday, the 56-year-old star’s daughter paid tribute to her “generous, foul-mouthed and hysterical father”.
Writing on Facebook, Bonnie Mayall said: “My dad was loved not only by my family, but by many many others. We will never forget him and neither will the world.
“RIP to the man, the myth, the legend – my wonderful, generous, foul-mouthed and hysterical father. My idol now and forever. We love you daddy.”
Mayall, who leaves his Scottish-born wife Barbara, a make-up artist, and three children, Rosie, Sidney and Bonnie, survived an almost fatal quad bike accident in 1998 which left him in a coma for several days.
Richardson said: “He had 16 years after the quad bike and at the time I don’t think people thought he would survive that.
“But he lived for another 16 years and it was just shocking that he went – he was so happy and seemed very healthy when he did go.”
Mayall enjoyed a glittering career which saw him appear in Britain’s best-loved comedy shows, including Blackadder and Bottom.
Richardson said the star “loved playing the bad boy”, but was very different in real life.
He said: “He always wanted to be a rebel but in fact was a lovely family man who did the washing up and was just a very warm person and not as selfish and vain as he liked to make out.”
Close friend and long-time collaborator Adrian Edmondson led the tributes to Mayall, saying he felt privileged to have shared “carefree stupid days” with him at Manchester University, where the pair studied.
Stephen Fry, who also starred in Blackadder, said on Twitter: “Simply distraught to hear of the death of Rik Mayall. An authentic comedy genius and a prince among men.”
Ben Elton, who was also a university friend of Mayall, said: “I owe him so much. He changed my life utterly when he asked me to co-write The Young Ones with him. He always made me cry with laughter, now he’s just made me cry.”
Another less orthodox tribute – in the form of a makeshift blue plaque – was put up in Hammersmith, west London, reading: “Rik Mayall 1958–2014 Punched his friend in the balls on a bench near this spot”.
Sir Cliff Richard, who in 1986 recorded a charity version of his hit single Living Doll with the show’s cast for Comic Relief, paid tribute to Mayall, saying: “I became a fan of his when he was in The Young Ones show and was always thrilled when he used my name during his series. I am so sad at his parting.”
It is not yet known what caused Mayall’s unexpected death and his wife – who is understood to have found his body at their home in Barnes, south west London – said she had no idea what had caused his death.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the star’s death was not believed to be suspicious.