Oil (The Young Ones)

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The Young Ones episode
Episode no. Series 1
Episode 2
Directed by Paul Jackson
Written by Ben Elton, Rik Mayall and Lise Mayer
Original air date 16 November 1982
Guest appearance(s)

Radical Posture

Episode chronology
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Oil was the second episode of British sitcom The Young Ones. It was written by Ben Elton, Rik Mayall and Lise Mayer, and directed by Paul Jackson. It was first aired on BBC2 on 16 November 1982.[1]


The guys settle into their new house after the destruction of their previous abode in Demolition and allocate the bedrooms. Mike discovers a man resembling Buddy Holly in his new room, having survived the plane crash by parachuting from the plane on The Day the Music Died, and crashing through the roof--in fact, he is still hanging upside down from the ceiling by his parachute. Having survived since the 1950s by eating a steady diet of beetles, he proceeds to sing a song about his diet, that he called "Coo Coo Daddy Longlegs," which was a parody of Buddy Holly's 1957 hit, Peggy Sue.

After a solo match of Murder in the dark, Vyvyan announces that he has struck oil in the cellar, and instantly forms a coalition with Mike (whom Vyvyan calls "El Presidente") to extract the oil, using Rick and Neil as well-digging slaves following an earlier house meeting and culminating in Vyvyan hitting Rick briskly between the legs with a cricket bat (Rick: "Ha! Missed both my legs!"). After Neil unwittingly injures Vyvyan with a pickaxe through the head whilst digging for oil, Rick commands Neil to "Throw off the shackles of oppression" and prompts a workers' revolution which is ultimately proved futile by a demanding benefit band headed by Alexei Sayle in his Balowski persona. In the first instance that Rick, Vyvyan and Neil are in the cellar digging for oil, there is a song playing on the radio, which is an obscure Soul hit from 1973 called "I'm Bustin' My Rocks (Working On The Chain Gang)," by Roy 'C,' who was better known for his 1966 hit, Shotgun Wedding.

During the end credits in which shows a disoriented but conscious Vyvyan stumbling about the cellar, he reveals to the camera: "By the way, it was a complete lie about the oil."

The episode featured a performance from electronic band Radical Posture, with Alexei Sayle as their singer, singing "Doctor Martens' Boots"


As with all episodes of The Young Ones, the main four characters were student flatmates Mike (Christopher Ryan); Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson); Rick (Rik Mayall) and Neil (Nigel Planer). Alexei Sayle appeared as Alexei Balowski, a protest singer and nephew of the students' landlord Jerzei.

Edited scene[edit]

When the episode was originally aired, an extended scene was shown at the basement oil well involving Vyvyan criticising Rick for not working hard enough, and then head butting the ground to speed up the digging (which then leads to Neil accidentally putting the pick axe through Vyvyan's head). In VHS and DVD releases, this scene has been edited to just show the pickaxe event and aftermath. The scene began with an obscure Roy 'C' song from 1973 called "I'm Bustin' My Rocks (Working On The Chain Gang)" (and not a Beatles song as originally specified) playing on Rick's radio, so the reason for its omission may be a failure by the BBC to secure broadcast rights for the music. A similar problem afflicted the re-release of Cash on DVD.


  1. ^ ""The Young Ones" Oil (1982)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 1 May 2009. Original Air Date: 16 November 1982 (Season 1, Episode 2)