|Created by||Rowan Atkinson
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||14 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Productioncompany(s)||Thames Television (1990–92)
Tiger Aspect Productions (1993–95)
|Distributor||FremantleMedia (formerlyPearson Television International) (1990–95)|
|Original run||1 January 1990 – 31 October 1995|
|Followed by||Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie|
|Related shows||Mr. Bean (animated)|
Mr. Bean is a British comedy television programme series of 14 twenty-five-minute episodes written by and starring Rowan Atkinson as the title character. Different episodes were also written by Robin Driscoll, Richard Curtis and one by Ben Elton. The pilot episode was broadcast on ITV on 1 January 1990, with the last television episode, “Goodnight Mr. Bean” broadcast on 31 October 1995. The final episode, “Hair by Mr. Bean of London”, was a video exclusive released on 15 November 1995, but not broadcast in the UK until 2006.
Based on a character originally developed by Atkinson while he was studying for his master’s degree at Oxford University, the series follows the exploits of Mr. Bean, described by Atkinson as “a child in a grown man’s body”, in solving various problems presented by everyday tasks and often causing disruption in the process. Bean rarely speaks, and the largely physical humour of the series is derived from his interactions with other people and his unusual solutions to situations. The series was influenced by physical performers such as Jacques Tati and comic actors from silent films.
During its five-year run, the series gained large UK audience figures, including 18.74 million for the 1991 episode “The Trouble With Mr. Bean”. The series has been the recipient of a number of international awards, including the Rose d’Or. The show has been sold in 245 territories worldwide, and has inspired an animated cartoon spin-off and two feature films.
The character of Mr. Bean was developed while Atkinson was studying for his master’s degree at Oxford University. A sketch featuring the character was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in the early 1980s. A similar character called Robert Box, played by Atkinson, appeared in the one-off 1979 ITV sitcom Canned Laughter, which also featured routines used in the 1997 film Bean. In 1987, one of Mr. Bean’s earliest appearances occurred at the “Just For Laughs” comedy festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. When programme co-ordinators were scheduling Atkinson into the festival program, Atkinson insisted that he perform on the French-speaking bill rather than the English-speaking program. Having no French dialogue in his act at all, program co-ordinators could not understand why Atkinson wanted to perform on the French bill. As it turned out, Atkinson’s act at the festival was a test platform for the Mr. Bean character and Atkinson wanted to see how the silent character’s physical comedy would fare on an international stage with a non-English speaking audience.Origins and influences
The name of the character was not decided until after the first programme had been produced, with a number of other vegetable-influenced names, such as “Mr. Cauliflower”, being explored.Atkinson cited the earlier comedy character Monsieur Hulot, created by French comedian and director Jacques Tati, as an influence on the character. Stylistically, Mr. Bean is also very similar to early silent films, relying purely upon physical comedy, with Mr. Bean speaking very little dialogue (although like other live-action TV series of the time, it features a laugh track). This has allowed the series to be sold worldwide without any significant changes to dialogue.
Characters and recurring props
The title character, played by Rowan Atkinson, is a childish and self-centered buffoon who brings various unusual schemes and contrivances to everyday tasks. He lives alone in his small flat inHighbury, and is almost always seen in his trademark tweed jacket and a skinny red tie. He also usually wears a digital calculator watch. Mr. Bean rarely speaks, and when he does, it is generally only a few mumbled words which are in a comically low-pitched voice. His first name (he names himself “Bean” to others) and profession, if any, are never mentioned. In the first film adaptation, “Mr.” appears on his passport in the “first name” field, and he is shown employed as a guard at London’s National Gallery. In Mr. Bean’s Holiday, however, his name is listed on his passport as “Rowan”, the actor’s first name.
Mr. Bean often seems unaware of basic aspects of the way the world works, and the programme usually features his attempts at what would normally be considered simple tasks, such as going swimming, using a television set, redecorating or going to church. The humour largely comes from his original (and often absurd) solutions to problems and his total disregard for others when solving them, his pettiness, and occasional malevolence.
At the beginning of episode two onwards, Mr. Bean falls from the sky in a beam of light, accompanied by a choir singing Ecce homo qui est faba (“Behold the man who is a bean”). These opening sequences were initially in black and white in episodes 2 and 3, and were intended by the producers to show his status as an “ordinary man cast into the spotlight”. However, later episodes showed Mr. Bean dropping from the night sky in a deserted London street, against the backdrop of St. Paul’s Cathedral, perhaps suggesting Bean is an alien. At the end of episodes 3 and 6 he is also shown being sucked right back up into the sky in the respective background scenes (black scene in episode 3 and street scene in episode 6). Atkinson himself has acknowledged that Bean “has a slightly alien aspect to him”. In the animated series (episode 38, “Double Trouble”) he is taken inside a spacecraft with “aliens” who look exactly like him and even have their own plushy toys. In an obvious homage, the aliens send him back home in a beam of light similar to the opening of the original Mr. Bean series. Whether Mr. Bean himself is an extraterrestrial is not clear. Mr. Bean lives in Flat 2, 12 Arbour Road, London, England.
Mr. Bean and Teddy
Teddy is Mr. Bean’s teddy bear and perhaps Mr. Bean’s best friend. The bear is a dark brown, knitted oddity with button eyes and sausage-shaped limbs, invariably ending up broken in half or in various other states of destruction and disfiguration. Although Teddy is inanimate, Mr. Bean often pretends it is alive. For example, when Mr. Bean hypnotises Teddy, he snaps his fingers and the bear’s head falls backwards as if it has fallen asleep instantly (Bean used his finger to prop Teddy’s head up). Mr. Bean behaves as if the bear is real, buying it a Christmas present or trying not to wake it in the mornings. The bear is often privy to Mr. Bean’s various schemes and doubles as a dish cloth or paint brush in an emergency; it has been decapitated (“Mr. Bean in Room 426″), used as his paint brush (“Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean”) and shrunk in the wash (“Tee Off, Mr. Bean”). Teddy is also Mr. Bean’s “pet” in “Hair by Mr. Bean of London” and is used to win a pet show. The Teddy that was used in filming sits in the windshield of the replica of Mr. Bean’s mini that is on display at the National Motor Museum. Over the years, Teddy has undergone several changes. When it debuted on “The Trouble with Mr. Bean”, it had a smaller head. Two episodes later, its head reached its current size, but its “eye” wasn’t present until Bean placed gold thumb tacks on its face. The “eyes” have since been replaced with two small white buttons sewn over Teddy’s face, giving it a distinct image.
Mr. Bean’s car
Rowan Atkinson demonstrating a famous scene from the episode “Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean” on a Mini at Goodwood Circuit
Mr. Bean’s car, a British Leyland Mini 1000, it developed its own character of sorts over the series and was central to several antics, such as Mr. Bean getting dressed in it, driving while sitting in an armchair strapped to the roof, starting it with a number of locks, and keys or attempting to avoid a parking garage toll by driving out through the entrance.
At first, it was an orange 1969 BMC Mini MK II (registration RNT 996H), but this was destroyed in an off-screen crash at the end of the first episode. From then on, the car was a 1976 – 1980 model (registration SLW 287R), Austin Citron Green in colour with a satin black bonnet.
The Mini also had a number of innovative security measures. For example, Bean uses a bolt-latch and padlock, rather than the lock fitted to the car, and removes the steering wheel instead of the key. These formed a running joke in several episodes, at one point deterring a car thief. Another demonstration car of exactly the same model and colours (but no padlock—registration ACW 497V) was crushed by a tank in the episode “Back to School, Mr. Bean” (also used in Four Weddings and a Funeral). This was filmed twice, as two stunt vehicles where crushed.
In some episodes Mr. Bean has a long-running feud with the unseen driver of a light blue Reliant Regal Supervan III (registration GRA 26K), which will usually get turned over, crashed out of its parking space and so forth by Mr.Bean in his mini. This conflict originated in the first episode, when the Reliant’s driver held the Mini up on the way to a mathematics exam, and subsequently became another running joke throughout the series.
Both the Mini and the Reliant re-appeared as characters in the animated Mr. Bean cartoons, and in the film Mr. Bean’s Holiday, yet another Mini was used, registration YGL 572T, appears. Also seen is a left hand drive version of his Mini, owned by the character Sabine which has a French registration (207 UHO 75). For the 1997 feature film Bean (film) a sequence involving the Mini driving through Harrod’s Department Store was shot, but this was not included in the final cut. His Mini’s registration plate number is C607 EUW. In the animated series, his Mini’s registration plate number is STE 952R.
After filming ended, the original Mini was sold to Kariker Kars to be hired for various events. It was then temporarily displayed as a major attraction at the Rover Group’s museum. In 1997, it was purchased by the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum and was on display for while, but is no longer there having been sold. And one on display at National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. is the car that was used to promote the animated series.
Mr. Bean’s “girlfriend”, Irma Gobb, played by Matilda Ziegler, appeared in a number of episodes. She is treated relatively inconsiderately by Bean, who appears to regard her more as a friend and companion than a love interest. However, he does become jealous when she dances with another man at a disco in “Mr. Bean Goes to Town”, and she certainly expects him to propose to her on Christmas Day in “Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean”, with his failure to do so resulting in her leaving him for good (she does not appear in any subsequent episodes). The character later appeared in theanimated series. The spin-off book Mr. Bean’s Diary (1993) states that Mr. Bean met Irma Gobb at a local library.
Prior to the episode Merry Christmas Mr. Bean, Irma’s name is not revealed. In “The Curse of Mr. Bean” and “Mr. Bean Goes to Town,” the character is credited as “the girlfriend.”
Although Mr. Bean is the only significant human character in the programme, others appear, usually as foils for his various antics. Other than his girlfriend, Mr. Bean’s only friends appear to be Hubert and Rupert, who appear as Bean’s New Year’s party guests in the episode “Do-It-Yourself, Mr. Bean” (although they altered his living room clock and fled to the party in the flat opposite, gaining real friends in the process) and Robin Driscoll appears in many episodes as various characters. However, several notable British actors and comedians appear alongside Atkinson in sketches as various one-off supporting characters, including Richard Briers, Angus Deayton, Nick Hancock, Paul Bown, Caroline Quentin, Danny La Rue, Roger Lloyd Pack, David Schneider andRichard Wilson.
The programme was produced by Tiger Television (later Tiger Aspect Productions) for Thames Television from 1990 to 1992 and for Central Independent Television from 1993 to 1995. Rather than being shown as a series, each episode of Mr. Bean was produced individually, and broadcast at intermittent intervals on the ITV network in the United Kingdom across six years, often around New Year. The episode “Hair by Mr. Bean of London” has not been broadcast on ITV, but was instead reserved for video release.
Mr. Bean features a choral theme tune written by Howard Goodall and performed by the Choir of Southwark Cathedral (later Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford). The words sung during the title sequences are in Latin:
- Ecce homo qui est faba – “Behold the man who is a bean” (sung at beginning)
- Finis partis primae – “End of part one” (sung before the advertisement break)
- Pars secunda – “Part two” (sung after the advertisement break)
- Vale homo qui est faba – “Farewell, man who is a bean” (sung at end)
The theme was later released on Goodall’s album Choral Works. Goodall also wrote an accompanying music track for many episodes. The first episode of Mr. Bean did not feature the choral theme tune, but instead an up-beat instrumental piece, also composed by Howard Goodall, which was more an incidental tune than a theme. It was used while Bean drove between locations intimidating the blue Reliant, and as such, was sometimes heard in later episodes whenever Bean’s nemesis is seen.
In the episode “Tee Off, Mr. Bean” Howard Goodall’s choral theme tune for another Richard Curtis comedy, The Vicar of Dibley, is heard playing on a car stereo. In Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean., while playing with Queen’s Royal Guards figurines and the nativity set, he hums “The British Grenadiers”, which was quoted in the theme to Blackadder Goes Forth.
Mr. Bean appears in a music video made for the 1991 Comic Relief fund raising single by Hale and Pace called The Stonk. Mr. Bean also appeared in the music video for Boyzone’s singlePicture Of You in 1997. The song featured on the soundtrack to the first Bean movie.
Mr Bean also made a Comic Relief record in 1992. This was (I Want To Be) Elected and was credited to “Mr Bean and Smear Campaign featuring Bruce Dickinson”. This was a cover of an Alice Cooper song and reached number 9 in the UK singles chart.
The first episode won the Golden Rose, as well as two other major prizes at the 1991 Rose d’Or Light Entertainment Festival in Montreux. In the UK, the episode “The Curse of Mr. Bean” was nominated for a number of BAFTA awards; “Best Light Entertainment Programme” in 1991, “Best Comedy” (Programme or Series) in 1991, and Atkinson was nominated three times for “Best Light Entertainment Performance” in 1991 and 1994.
International broadcast history
After its original run it has been shown repeatedly on PBS and satellite channels such as Telemundo in the United States, CBC in Canada, TV1 in Australia, TVB in Hong Kong, Nickelodeon,Comedy Central and ITV3, Cartoon Network on 11 June 2012, in the UK, Disney Channel Asia in Southeast Asia, TV3 in Malaysia, MediaCorp Channel 5 in Singapore, ABS-CBN in thePhilippines and RCTI in Indonesia. Digital channel ITV3 began rebroadcasting the series on 5 January 2010, and again on 24 May 2010. In Pakistan it has been aired on a number of channels such as Cartoon Network, Starlite TV, Raavi and on Syndicated Networks as well.
The animated series
Mr. Bean in the animation along with his landlady Mrs. Wicket, at left and his girlfriend, Irma Gobb
Bean was revived in a 2002–2004 animated cartoon series, again featuring little dialogue, with most being either little soundbites or mumbling. The series, which consist of 26 episodes (with 2 segments each), expanded the number of additional characters, featuring Bean’s unpleasant landlady, Mrs. Wicket, and her evil one-eyed cat, Scrapper. Atkinson provided the voice for Bean, and all of the animated Bean actions are taken from Atkinson himself. Other characters’ voices are provided by Jon Glover, Rupert Degas, Gary Martin and Lorelei King. A video game based on the Animated series was released on 14 December 2007 and was a third person platformer. The games were released on PAL only for PS2, Nintendo DS, and Wii (called Mr. Bean’s Wacky World).
Two films featuring Bean have been released. The first, Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie was directed by Mel Smith and released in 1997. This broke from the programme’s tradition by using a subplot with more developed characters – instead of being the sole centre of attention, Bean here interacted with a suburban Californian family he stayed with while overseeing the transfer of Whistler’s Mother to a Los Angeles art gallery. The film grossed over US$250 million globally ($45 million in the USA) on a budget estimated at $22 million.
News broke out in March 2005 that a second Bean film, Mr. Bean’s Holiday was in development, with Atkinson returning in the title role. The film had been through several changes of name during its development, including Bean 2 and French Bean. Filming began on 15 May 2006 and began post-production in October 2006. It was released in the UK on 30 March 2007. On 17 July 2007, the North American premiere was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at the Just For Laughs festival; the launching pad for the Mr. Bean character 20 years earlier. The film was then released nationwide in North America on 24 August 2007. The film follows Bean on an eventful journey across France for a holiday in the French Riviera, which after a number of misfortunes culminates in an unscheduled screening of his video diary at the Cannes Film Festival. It was directed by Steve Bendelack and, according to Atkinson, is the last appearance of Bean. It grossed nearly US$230 million globally ($33 million in the USA).
The London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony
The character as represented by Atkinson plays a single note on a synthesizer in the performance of “Chariots of Fire” during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Instead of his usual dress, he wears white tie tuxedo suit like the other musicians around him. During his performance, he becomes bored with playing the same note repeatedly on the synthesizer and gets jealous of the more interesting part that another member of the orchestra playing with him has on the grand piano. Still remaining bored, he takes out his mobile and takes a picture of himself, looking chuffed. He then sneezes in a comical fashion and tries to retrieve his handkerchief from his bag behind him. He finds that he cannot reach and has to keep playing the note with his umbrella to retrieve it. When he finally blows his nose, he throws his handkerchief into the grand piano. He then falls asleep continuing to play the note.
In a dream sequence, it is the opening scene of the film Chariots of Fire where they are running across a beach, except Mr. Bean is running with them. He begins to fall behind, until he hails a car to overtake all the others. In front and running, a runner tries to overtake Bean but is tripped by him. He crosses the line with elation and then he wakes up. The rest of the orchestra had stopped playing while he continues his one recurring note. Realising this, and upon encouragement from conductor Simon Rattle, he plays an extended flourish and lastly touches a note that makes a flatulent sound then stops.
Two books were released related to the original series: Mr. Bean’s Diary in 1992 and Mr. Bean’s Pocket Diary in 1994. The two books have identical content and differ only in the format in which they are printed. The content of both is a template diary with handwritten content scrawled in by Mr. Bean. They provide some additional information on the setting: for example, they establish that Mr. Bean lives in Highbury and rents his flat from a landlady named Mrs. Wicket. They confirm the name of Mr. Bean’s girlfriend as “Irma Gobb”, and also give the name of the other man she actually dances with in Mr. Bean Goes to Town (Giles Gummer). An additional book called Mr. Bean’s Diary was released in 2002 to accompany the animated series; this book was also graded as a children’s reader.
Video and DVD releases
The series was available on a number of Thames Television VHS compilations. In the United Kingdom (Region 2), episodes of Mr. Bean were released on a yearly basis by Universal Pictures UKfrom 2004. The complete collection is now available, including the two feature films and other extras. In the United States (Region 1), the complete series has been available since 2003 on A&E Home Video as “The Whole Bean”.
The record-selling UK videos were withdrawn shortly before the release of Bean, and DVDs were released on an annual basis as of 2004.
In August 2009 an official YouTube channel was launched featuring content from the live action and animated series.
|Title||No. of episodes||Release date||Notes|
|Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean||14 + 4 (special ep.)||29 April 2003||Region 1. Contains all 14 episodes, two Comic Relief sketches and two director’s cut sketches. Plus, The Story of Mr. Bean (40-min. documentary), Mr. Bean The Animated Series Trailer and Rowan Atkinson Biography & Filmography|
|Title||No. of episodes||Release date||Notes|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 1||3||1 November 2004||3 episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 2||3||31 October 2005||3 episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 3||3||13 November 2006||3 episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 4||3||19 March 2007||3 episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 5||2||12 November 2007||2 episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Collection||14||12 November 2007||All 14 TV episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Christmas Collection||14 + 2 (movies)||12 November 2007||All 14 TV episodes, Mr. Bean’s Holiday & Bean – The Ultimate Disaster Movie|
|Mr. Bean – Complete Collection||14 + 26 (cartoon) + 2 (movies)||12 November 2007||All 14 TV episodes, all 26 episodes of the Mr. Bean Animated TV Series, Mr. Bean’s Holiday & Bean – The Ultimate Disaster Movie|
|Mr. Bean – Ultimate Collection||14 + 9 (cartoon) + 2 (movies) + Director’s Cut sketches||16 December 2008||All 14 TV episodes, 9 episodes of the Mr. Bean Animated TV Series, Mr Bean’s Holiday & Bean – The Ultimate Disaster Movie and the Director cut sketches expect the chair|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 1||5||17 November 2008||5 episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 2||5||17 November 2008||5 episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 3||4||17 November 2008||4 episodes|
|Mr. Bean – Best Bits||17 November 2008||Highlights|
- Best of Mr. Bean
|Title||No. of episodes||Release date||Notes|
|The Best of Mr. Bean||7||23 November 1999||PolyGram Video|
|The Best of Mr. Bean||7||29 August 2006||A&E Home Video|
|Title||No. of episodes|
|The Amazing Adventures of Mr. Bean||2|
|The Exciting Escapades of Mr. Bean||2|
|The Terrible Tales of Mr. Bean||2|
|The Merry Mishaps of Mr. Bean||2|
|The Perilous Pursuits of Mr. Bean||2|
|The Final Frolics of Mr. Bean||2|
|The Best Bits of Mr. Bean||Episode clips|
|The Complete Mr. Bean (Volume 1)||7|
|The Complete Mr. Bean (Volume 2)||7|
|Merry Christmas Mr. Bean||1|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 1||3|
|Mr. Bean – Vol. 2||3|
|Thames Favourite Programmes||6|
The sale of Mr Bean worldwide has enabled his character to secure a place in the popular culture of several countries. Notably, a number of public figures have been compared to the character, usually as an insult. Tony Blair, then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was identified by Homer Simpson as “Mr. Bean” when his cartoon form greeted the Simpsons to the United Kingdom in an episode of the eponymous programme, allegedly demonstrating the stereotypical view of the British by Americans.
Arthur Batchelor, one of the Royal Navy captives held by Iran during the 2007 Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel, has stated that some of his captors had mocked him calling him “Mr. Bean”. NRL Referee Sean Hampstead is regularly nicknamed “Mr. Bean” in nationally broadcast commentary by Australian television/radio personality Ray Warren as a result of his similar appearance. In 2007, Vincent Cable, the acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, described the recent decline in Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s fortunes as his “remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from Stalin to Mr. Bean”. The former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is often mocked in his own country for his facial resemblance to Mr. Bean, and a computer hacker broke into Spain’s official website for its presidency of the European Union, inserting the character on the front page of the website. Satirists have also compared Zapatero to Mr. Bean when discussing government policies that are deemed to have been unsuccessful.
Several of the visual jokes in the series have been used as experiments on the Discovery Channel’s MythBusters series. In episode 52 – “Mind Control”, the idea of painting a room with a stick of explosives (Firework, or other) placed in a paint can, as in the episode “Do-It-Yourself, Mr. Bean”, was tested and deemed impossible, as adequate coverage was not achieved.
An image of Mr. Bean has also been used as an internet meme usually accompanied by the statement, “if you know what I mean.”
Though Rowan Atkinson is not typecast to characters like Mr. Bean, he has played similar characters in other works, such as Enrico in the 2001 film Rat Race. In Tetsuo Hara and Buronson’smanga Souten no Ken, a parody of Mr. Bean can be found in a minor character appearing in chapter 45, contained in vol. 5. In it, a barman identical to Mr. Bean tends the main character Kenshiro Kasumi, for comic relief.
In the video game Resident Evil 2, during the opening sequence in the streets of Raccoon City, Mr. Bean’s British Leyland Mini 1000 can be seen parked against a barricade.
Mr. Bean has also been influential on later series, such as The World of Lee Evans.
Private Eye magazine features a cartoon strip, The Adventures of Mr Milibean, in which British Labour party leader Ed Miliband is drawn as Bean.
Rowan Atkinson performed as this character at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics during “Chariots of Fire” with the London Symphony Orchestra.