The reason for including a performance by a live band in each episode was that this caused the BBC to categorize the show as "Light Entertainment" rather than "Situation Comedy", which meant it got a budget, as no budget was available for further sitcoms.
None of the writers had ever done anything for television before and simply wrote what they thought would be funny, not giving any thought to how it would actually be filmed. When they arrived on set the first day they realized how much work the crew had gone to for what were, in a lot of cases, throw-away jokes with no real connection to the plot. They apologized and promised to write things that would be easier to film, but the crew told them they had enjoyed the challenge and to keep writing as they had and they would find a way to film it.
Rik Mayall once remarked in an interview that The Young Ones were designed to be a nuclear family, with Neil as the mother, Mike as the father figure, Vyvyan as the rebellious young son and Rick as the daughter (complete with pigtails).
Despite being set in North London, the external scenes were actually filmed in Bristol, just over 100 miles away; the show's producer, Paul Jackson, lived in Bristol at the time. The house used for the external scenes is in Codrington Road, Bristol.
The principal characters were all derived from characters performed by the actors at The Comic Strip club in London in the early-1980s. Rik, the People's Poet was a solo act by Rik Mayall; Vyvyan was a development of Adrian Edmondson's half of Twentieth Century Coyote (with Mayall); Neil was originally Nigel Planer's inept (and depressed) folk singer; while Mike was based on Peter Richardson's performance as half of The Outer Limits (with Planer). It was originally intended that Richardson should join the show, but when he declined, the role was offered to Christopher Ryan.
Madness made two guest appearances in the sitcom performing two of their hit songs. "House of Fun" in The Young Ones: Boring (1982) and "Our House" in The Young Ones: Sick (1984). The reason they made two appearances was that the BBC was considering giving them a series in the same vein as _The Monkees_. This never happened.
A pilot for an American version of the sitcom which was called Oh, No! Not THEM! (1990) featured Nigel Planer returning in the role of Neil and Jackie Earle Haley and the show had a Claymation opening credit sequence. But the show was not picked up.
Rik Mayall, Ben Elton and Lise Mayer decided to discontinue the sitcom after 2 seasons. Although the characters Vivian, Rik, Neil and Mike had been killed off in a fatal bus explosion. The characters would return for "Comic Relief" in 1986 and they would also appear in a music video of "Living Doll" by Cliff Richard.
Rik Mayall stated in a interview on why the sitcom ended after 2 seasons, was because himself, Lise Mayer and Ben Elton could not think of anymore original jokes and decided to kill off the characters.
There was a fifth flatmate, of indeterminate gender, who never spoke. Ben Elton has denied his/her existence, however Geoff Posner and Paul Jackson admit that they thought it would be funny to have an unexplained character appearing in some episodes.
In The Young Ones: Flood (1982) Vivian finds himself in Narnia and encounters The White Witch and her dwarf servant. A parody of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis. Someone in the studio audience even says, "It's Narnia".
In The Young Ones: Bomb (1982), when Reggie Balowski is talking to Mike about the atom bomb, he quotes "Did you kill my brother?". This foreshadowed later in 1985, when Alexei Sayle released a single called "Did You Kill My Brother?" which was a song he performed in The Comic Strip Presents... (1982).
After the show ended in 1984. Alexei Sayle and Christopher Ryan would go on to appear opposite Colin Baker in Doctor Who (1963). Sayle played DJ in 1985's Revelation of the Daleks and Ryan played Lord Kiv in 1986's The Trial of a Time Lord: Mindwarp.
In The Young Ones: Boring (1982), Billy Balowski pretends to be a Dalek, quoting their famous catchphrase "Exterminate!". This foreshadowed Alexei Sayle's guest role as DJ in the 1985 story Revelation of the Daleks, in which Sayle's character got exterminated by the Daleks.
Guest actor David Rappaport whom appeared in two shows in Series 1 as two different characters later appeared opposite Mark Hamill in Amazing Stories: Gather ye Accorns (1986). Adrian Edmondson would later star in Star Wars: Episode VIII (2017). Mark Hamill played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films.
During the show, Alexei Sayle would go out of character and play himself and would rant and talk about something from the comedian's own life, which he is known for in his sketch comedy shows and stand up acts.