Composer(s) Howard Goodall
|Starring Rowan Atkinson|
|Created by Rowan AtkinsonRichard Curtis|
Written by Ben Elton (Episode 1)Robin Driscoll (Episodes 2–14)Richard Curtis (Episodes 1–7)Rowan Atkinson
Directed by John Howard Davies (Episodes 1–3, 15)John Birkin (Episodes 4–7, 10–14)Paul Weiland (Episodes 4–9)
Mr. Bean is a British sitcom created by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis, and starring Atkinson as the title character. Atkinson co-wrote all 15 episodes with either Curtis, Robin Driscoll, or both, with Ben Elton co-writing the pilot. 13 of the episodes were broadcast on ITV, from the pilot on 1 January 1990, until "Goodnight Mr. Bean" on 31 October 1995. A clip show, "The Best Bits of Mr. Bean", was broadcast on 15 December 1995, and one episode, "Hair by Mr. Bean of London", was not broadcast until 2006 on Nickelodeon.
- Background and influences
- Mr Bean
- Irma Gobb
- Mr Beans car
- The Reliant
- Other characters
- Animated series
- Film adaptations
- London 2012 Olympic Summer Games opening ceremony
- Other appearances
- Home media
- DVD format
- DVD re release
- Popular culture
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, Mr. Bean became a significant part of 1990s British popular culture, with the series gaining large UK audience figures, including 18.74 million for the 1991 episode "The Trouble with Mr. Bean". The series has received 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, two feature films, and an appearance at the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
Background and influences
The character of Mr. Bean was developed while Rowan Atkinson was studying for his master's degree in electrical engineering at Queen's College, Oxford. A sketch featuring Bean was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in the early 1980s. A similar character called Robert Box, played by Atkinson himself, appeared in the one-off 1979 ITV sitcom Canned Laughter, which also featured routines used in the film Bean (1997).
One of Bean's earliest appearances occurred at the "Just for Laughs" comedy festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1987. When programme co-ordinators were scheduling him into the festival programme, Atkinson insisted that he perform on the French-speaking bill rather than the English-speaking programme. Having no French dialogue in his act at all, programme co-ordinators could not understand why Atkinson wanted to perform on the French bill instead. 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 his character's physical comedy would fare on an international stage with a non-English speaking audience.
The character's name was not decided until after the first programme had been produced; a number of other vegetable-influenced names, such as "Mr. Cauliflower", were 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. In November 2012, Atkinson told The Daily Telegraph of his intentions to retire the character, stating that "someone in their 50s being childlike becomes a little sad."
The title character, played by Rowan Atkinson, is a childish buffoon who brings various unusual schemes and contrivances to everyday tasks. He lives alone at the address of Flat 2, 12 Arbour Road, Highbury, 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.
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 activities, 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"), recorded by Southwark Cathedral Choir in 1990. These opening sequences were initially in black and white in episodes two and three, 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. At the end of episodes three and six 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 has acknowledged that Bean "has a slightly alien aspect to him". In the animated series (episode, "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 and music similar to the opening of the original Mr. Bean series. Whether Bean is an extraterrestrial is not clear.
Mr. Bean's girlfriend, Irma Gobb (played by Matilda Ziegler), appears in three episodes. In "The Curse of Mr. Bean" and "Mr. Bean Goes to Town", the character is simply credited as "the girlfriend". She is treated relatively inconsiderately by Bean, who appears to regard her more as a friend and companion than as 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"; his failure to do so results in her leaving him for good. The character does not appear in any subsequent episodes; however, she later appears in the animated series. The spin-off book Mr. Bean's Diary (1993) states that Mr. Bean met Irma Gobb at a local library. Ziegler has also played a waitress, a mother and a policewoman.
In the Comic Relief extra "Torvill and Bean", Bean is accompanied by a female companion portrayed by Sophie Thompson, whose overall appearance resembles Gobb's.
Teddy is Mr. Bean's teddy bear and perhaps Mr. Bean's best friend. The little brown bear is a knitted oddity with button eyes and sausage-shaped limbs, which invariably end 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 had 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 tool or other items in emergencies; 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 used in filming sits in the windscreen 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 "eyes" were not 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
Mr. Bean's car, a 1976 British Leyland Mini 1000, developed its own character of sorts over the series and was central to several antics, such as Mr. Bean's 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 car park fee 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 model (registration SLW 287R), Austin Citron Green in colour with a matte 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, and at one point deterred a car thief. However, after changing parking spaces with an identical mini (registration ACW 497V) in "Back to School Mr. Bean", his car is crushed by a tank. Fortunately for Bean, his padlock survives, and he hurries off to "carjack" another automobile with the same colour scheme.
For the feature film Bean (1997), a sequence involving the Mini (registration C607 EUW) driving through Harrod's Department Store was shot, but this was not included in the final cut.
The Mini also appeared in the film Mr. Bean's Holiday, with the registration YGL 572T. Also seen is a left hand drive version of his Mini, owned by the character Sabine.
In 2015, Mr. Bean returned in a sketch for Comic Relief to celebrate his 25th anniversary. In the sketch Mr. Bean drives the Mini, with registration STE 952R (same as in the animated series) to attend a funeral.
The Mini re-appeared as a character in the animated Mr. Bean cartoons (registration STE 952R) and
After filming ended, one of the original Minis 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 a while, but is no longer there, having been sold, it went to America. One other is privately owned and nearing the end of a restoration in the south of England. BMW Germany has built a replica, and another replica — the one used to promote the animated series — is on display at National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.
Starting with the first episode, 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, who is usually oblivious to the results. These mishaps became a running joke throughout the series. In "Tee Off, Mr. Bean", Bean is hitchhiking and the Reliant pulls over for him, but Bean, who recognises the car, pretends to not see it, until it leaves.
The Reliant reappears in the animated series, again victimised by Mr Bean in his Mini. In the animated series episode, "Young Bean", the identity of the Reliant driver is revealed for the first time (albeit shown in a flashback as a child).
Although Mr. Bean is the only significant character in the programme, others appear, usually as foils for his various antics. Other than his girlfriend there are more characters in each episode. However, several notable British actors and comedians appear alongside Atkinson in sketches as various one-off supporting characters, including Owen Brenman, Richard Briers, Angus Deayton, Stephen Frost, Nick Hancock, Christopher Ryan, Paul Bown, Caroline Quentin, Danny La Rue, Roger Lloyd-Pack, David Schneider and Richard Wilson.
All 14 episodes of Mr. Bean were produced by Tiger Aspect Productions. Additionally, the character has been used in one-off sketches, guest appearances and television commercials in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Bean features a choral theme tune in the key of C major 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:
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. The instrumental of the theme tune was used in animated Mr. Bean in the series finale "Double Trouble".
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 single Picture of You in 1997. The song was 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.
Bean was revived in a 2002–04 animated cartoon series, again featuring little dialogue, with most being either little soundbites or mumbling. The series, which consist of 63 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 reprised his role as Bean, and all animated Bean actions are taken from Atkinson himself. Other characters' voices are provided by Jon Glover, Rupert Degas, Gary Martin and Lorelei King. In October 2000, it was reported that Mr. Bean would become animated, which was initially to be targeted at adults. In February 2001, the series was officially announced, with it premiering shortly afterwards.
Mr. Bean's Wacky World, 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 PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii.
Several official Mr. Bean games have been released, including Mr. Bean: Around the World and Mr. Bean: Flying Teddy. Both are available on the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Marketplace.
Two films featuring Bean have been released. The first, Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, was directed by Mel Smith and released in 1997, with Atkinson reprising his title role. This broke from the program'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 more than US$250 million globally ($45 million in the USA) on a budget estimated at $22 million.
In February 2001, an unproduced script outline for a Mr. Bean movie set in Australia was rumoured to have been developed by screenwriter Richard Curtis.
In March 2005, news broke out that a second Bean film, Mr. Bean's Holiday, was in development, with Atkinson reprising his 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 United Kingdom 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 grossed nearly US$230 million globally ($33 million in the United States).
The film was at some stage considered to be the last live-action appearance of the character, but Rowan Atkinson later played Mr. Bean in the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, reprised the role for a martial-arts inspired Snickers commercial in 2014, and in 2016 stated that he would never retire the character.
A brand new series of animated episodes produced by CITV were released in 2015.
London 2012 Olympic Summer Games opening ceremony
The character (as represented by Atkinson) plays a single note on a synthesiser in the performance of "Chariots of Fire", during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Instead of his usual brown tweed sports jacket, he wears white tie and tails like the other musicians around him.
During his performance, he becomes bored with playing the same note repeatedly on the synthesiser and gets jealous of the more interesting part being played on the grand piano. Still bored, he takes out his mobile phone 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 it 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.
A dream sequence of the opening scene of the film Chariots of Fire, shows the characters 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. Bean is now running in front, and another runner tries to overtake Bean but is tripped by him. Bean crosses the line with elation, and then he wakes up.
The rest of the orchestra had stopped playing while he continued his one recurring note. Realising this, and with 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.
Rowan Atkinson has appeared in character as Bean in many normally factual television broadcasts, sometimes as a publicity stunt to promote a new episode, DVD or film.
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 UK from 2004. The complete collection is now available, including the two feature films and other extras. The episodes were released on VHS by A&E Home Video in the United States in the 1990s. In the United States (Region 1), the complete series has been available since 2003 on A&E Home Video as "The Whole Bean". The documentary "The Story of Mr. Bean" is edited on both the UK and USA DVD sets: It was originally 52 minutes when broadcast on TV. However, it is 48 minutes on the UK DVD while only 40 on the American DVD. Most notably, in the UK version, the section detailing "The Tall Guy" has humorous clips from the film removed. The American DVD features the same edits as the British DVD but is also missing comments by Burt Reynolds on the set of Bean, comments by Jeff Goldblum, some clips from the show Mr. Bean and many others.
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.
The series was re-released by Shout Factory in North America on 24 March 2015 on DVD, to coincide with its 25th anniversary. This set contains digitally remastered episodes (similar to the 2010 British release), the 40 minute "The Story of Mr. Bean", additional scenes: "Turkey Weight," "Armchair Sale," "Marching" & "Playing With Matches", "Bus Stop" and "Library" sketches, a trailer for "Mr. Bean: The Animated Series", and "The Best Bits of Mr. Bean", a 72-minute clip show.
Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean was re-released on 24 March 2015 on DVD digitally re-mastered to coincide with the series' 25th anniversary.