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Mr. Bean

Mr. Bean
Mr. bean title card.jpg
FormatVisual Humour/Physical comedy
Created byRowan Atkinson
Richard Curtis
StarringRowan Atkinson
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes18 (List of episodes)
Production
Executiveproducer(s)Peter Bennett-Jones
Producer(s)Sue Vertue
Running time24 minutes [1]
Broadcast
Original channelITV
Picture format4:3
Original run1 January 1990 – 15 November 1995
StatusEnded
Chronology
Followed byBean
Related showsMr. Bean (animated TV series)
External links
= Official website
Mr. Bean is a British comedy television series of 14 half-hour episodes starring Rowan Atkinsonas the title character. Different episodes were written by Rowan AtkinsonRobin Driscoll,Richard Curtis and one by Ben Elton. The first episode was broadcast on ITV on 1 January 1990,[2] with the final episode, "Hair by Mr. Bean of London", on 15 November 1995.
Based on a character developed by Rowan Atkinson at university, the series followed the exploits of Mr. Bean, described by Atkinson as "a child in a grown man's body",[3] in solving various problems presented by everyday tasks and often causing disruption in the process.
During its five-year run the series gained large UK audience figures, including 18.74 million for the 1992 episode "The Trouble With Mr. Bean".[4] The series has been the recipient of a number of international awards, including Rose d'Or. The show has been sold in 200 territories worldwide, and has inspired two feature films and an animated cartoon spin-off.[5]


The character of Mr. Bean was developed while Atkinson was studying for his MSc at Oxford University. A sketch featuring the character was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in the early 1980s.[6] 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.[7] In 1987, one of Mr. Bean's earliest appearances occurred at the "Just For Laughs" comedy festival in MontrealQuebec, 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.[8]
[edit]
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.[9] Atkinson cited the earlier comedy character Monsieur Hulot, created by French comedian and director Jacques Tati, as an influence on the character.[10] 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.[8][11]


Characters and recurring props


Mr. Bean

The title character, played by Rowan Atkinson, is a slow-witted yet likeable buffoon who brings various unusual schemes and contrivances to everyday tasks. He lives alone in his small flat in Highbury, North London, and is almost always seen in his trademark tweed jacket and a skinny red tie. He also usually wears a digital calculator watch (which he does not like to lose). 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.[12] In Mr. Bean's Holiday, however, his name is listed on his passport as "Rowan".[13]
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 suggesting Bean is an alien. At the end of episodes 3 and6 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";[14] in the animated series, he was actually shown to be an extraterrestrial.


Teddy


Bean and Teddy
Teddy is Mr. Bean's teddy bear, 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 hypnotizes 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") 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.


Car


Rowan Atkinson demonstrating a famous scene from the Mr. Bean series on a Mini atGoodwood Circuit in 2009
Mr. Bean's car, a British Leyland Mini 1000, developed a 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 or attempting to avoid a parking garage toll by driving out through the entrance.
At first, an orange 1969 BMC Mini MK II (registration RNT 996H) was Mr. Bean's vehicle, but this was destroyed in an off-screen crash at the end of the first episode. From then on, the car was a 1977 model (registration SLW 287R), "Applejack" green with a matt black bonnet. It made its first appearance in "The Curse of Mr. Bean".
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. The car, confused with another demonstration car of exactly the same model and colours (but no padlock) (registration ACW 497V), was crushed by a tank in "Back to School, Mr. Bean", but returned in later episodes, perhaps having actually been the identical demonstration car from that point on.
Mr. Bean has a long-running, yet unexplained 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. 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 a 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 appears – a lighter yellow/green than the original with a black sunroof, registration YGL 572T. Also seen is a left hand drive version of his Mini, owned by the character Sabine which has a French registration. A sequence involving the Mini driving through Harrod's was shot for the 1997 film, but ultimately was not included in the final cut.[15]
After filming ended, the present Mini used in filming was sold to Kariker Kars to be hired for various events. It was then temporarily displayed as a major attraction at the Rover groups museum. In 1997, it was purchased by the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum where it is still on display today.[16]


Irma Gobb

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 the animated series. The spin-off book Mr. Bean's Diary (1993) states that Mr. Bean met Irma Gobb at a local library.[17]


Other characters

Although Mr. Bean is the only significant human character in the programme, other characters 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 BriersAngus DeaytonNick Hancock,Paul BownCaroline QuentinDanny La RueRoger Lloyd PackDavid Schneider and Richard Wilson.[18]


Production and broadcast

The programme was produced by Tiger Television, later renamed Tiger Aspect, for Thames Television from 1990 to 1992 and then for Centralfrom 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. After its original run it has been shown repeatedly on PBS and satellite channels such as Telemundo in the US, the CBC in Canada, NickelodeonComedy Central Extra and ITV3 in the UK, Disney Channel in Asia, and internationally.[19] Digital channel ITV3 began rebroadcasting the series on 5 January 2010, and again on 24 May 2010.
The record selling UK videos were withdrawn shortly before the release of the Bean film and DVDs were released on an annual basis as of 2004.

[edit]Episode guide


Music

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.[20]
Mr. Bean appears in a music video made for the 1991 Comic Relief fund raising single by Hale and Pace called The Stonk.[21] Mr. Bean also appeared in the music video for Boyzone's single Picture Of You in 1997.[22] 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.[23]


Awards

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.[24]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 1992, and Atkinson was nominated three times for "Best Light Entertainment Performance" in 1991, 1992 and 1994.[25]


Spin-offs


Bean movie adaptations


Bean

In 1997, Bean, a film version directed by Mel Smith, also known as Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, was produced. This broke from the programme's tradition by using a subplot with more developed characters — instead of being the sole centre of attention, Mr. 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 USD$250 million globally on a budget estimated at $22 million.[26]


Mr. Bean's Holiday

News broke 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.[27] 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.[8] The film was then released nation-wide in North America on 24 August 2007.
The film followed the character 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 probably the last appearance of the character.[28]


The animated series


Mr. Bean in the animation along with his girlfriend, Irma Gobb, and landlady Mrs. Wicket
Mr. Bean was revived in a 2002 animated cartoon series, 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 Mr. Bean's unpleasant landlady, Mrs. Wicket and her evil one-eyed cat, Scrapper. Rowan 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 GloverRupert DegasGary Martin and Lorelei King.[29]


Books

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 inMr. 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 releases


DVD releases

In the United Kingdom (Region 2), episodes of Mr. Bean have been released on a yearly basis by Universal Pictures UK since 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".
In August 2009 an official YouTube channel was launched featuring content from the live action and animated series.[30]
DVD Name# of episodesRelease DateNotes
Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean14 + 4 (special ep)29 April 2003Region 1. Contains all 14 episodes, two Comic Relief sketches and two director's cut sketches.
Volumes
DVD Name# of episodesRelease DateNotes
Mr. Bean - Vol 131 November 20043 episodes
Mr. Bean - Vol 2331 October 20053 episodes
Mr. Bean - Vol 3313 November 20063 episodes
Mr. Bean - Vol 4319 March 20073 episodes
Mr. Bean - Vol 5212 November 20072 episodes
Mr. Bean - Collection1412 November 2007All 14 TV episodes
Mr. Bean - Christmas Collection14 + 2 (movies)12 November 2007All 14 TV episodes, Mr. Bean's Holiday & Bean - The Ultimate Disaster Movie
Mr. Bean - Complete Collection14 + 26 (cartoon) + 2 (movies)12 November 2007All 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 Collection14 + 9 (cartoon) + 2 (movies) + Director's Cut sketches16 December 2008All 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.
Mr. Bean - Vol 1517 November 20085 episodes
Mr. Bean - Vol 2517 November 20085 episodes
Mr. Bean - Vol 3417 November 20084 episodes
Mr. Bean - Best Bits17 November 2008Highlights
|- Best of Mr. Bean
DVD Name# of episodesRelease DateNotes
The Best of Mr. Bean723 November 1999NBC Universal
The Best of Mr. Bean729 August 2006A&E Home Video


VHS format

VHS Name# of episodes
The Amazing Adventures of Mr. Bean2
The Exciting Escapades of Mr. Bean2
The Terrible Tales of Mr. Bean2
The Merry Mishaps of Mr. Bean2
The Perilous Pursuits of Mr. Bean2
Unseen Bean2
The Final Frolics of Mr. Bean2
The Best Bits of Mr. BeanEpisode clips
The Complete Mr. Bean (Volume 1)7
The Complete Mr. Bean (Volume 2)7
Merry Christmas Mr. Bean1
Mr. Bean - Vol 13
Mr. Bean - Vol 23
Blu Ray
Blu Ray Name# of episodesRelease DateNotes
The Best of Mr. Bean723 November 1999NBC Universal
The Best of Mr. Bean729 August 2006A&E Home Video


Mr. Bean in popular culture

The sale of Mr. Bean worldwide has meant that he has permeated popular culture in 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, demonstrating the stereotypical view of the British by Americans.[31]
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".[32] 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".[33] The 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 theEuropean 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.[34]
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.[35]


References

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096657/
  2. ^ Mr Bean’s Best Birthday Bits – 20 Greatest Scenes, URL accessed 15 September 2010
  3. ^ "Atkinson has Bean there and he's done with that", interview by Lucy Cavendish in The Scotsman (30 November 2005), URL accessed 3 August 2006.
  4. ^ Viewing figures at the Internet Movie Database, URL accessed 14 March 2008
  5. ^ Facts and Figures at mrbean.co.uk, URL accessed 4 August 2006
  6. ^ "Atkinson has Bean there and he's done with that", interview by Lucy Cavendish in The Scotsman (30 November 2005), accessed 3 August 2006
  7. ^ Canned Laughter at the Internet Movie Database, URL accessed 14 March 2008
  8. a b c Interview with Rowan Atkinson at justforlaughs.com, URL accessed 14 March 2008
  9. ^ Mr Bean official website, URL accessed 6 September 2010
  10. ^ Transcript of interview with Rowan Atkinson at bbc.co.uk, URL accessed 14 March 2008
  11. ^ Just for Laughs festival, URL accessed 14 March 2008
  12. ^ Mel Smith, Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, 1997
  13. ^ Steve Bendelack, Mr. Bean's Holiday, Universal Studios 2007
  14. ^ "The Fine Art of Being Mr. Bean", archive interview in TheBuffalo News, URL accessed 15 June 2006
  15. ^ Alternative versions at the Internet Movie Database, URL accessed 1 September 2010
  16. ^ Cars of the Stars Museum, URL accessed 1 September 2010
  17. ^ Rowan Atkinson & Robin Driscoll, Mr. Bean's Diary, London: Boxtree Ltd, 1993
  18. ^ Credits at the Internet Movie Database, URL accessed 17 April 2008
  19. ^ "From Britain, the Appalling but Dear Mr. Bean" at the New York Times, 2 April 1992
  20. ^ howardgoodall.co.uk, URL accessed 13 March 2008
  21. ^ The Stonk at YouTube, URL accessed 14 March 2008
  22. ^ "Picture of You" music video, URL accessed 14 March 2008
  23. ^ "I want to be Elected" disc information, URL accessed 14 March 2008
  24. ^ BBC Guide to Comedy, written by Mark Lewisohn, URL accessed 3 August 2006
  25. ^ Awards at IMDb, URL accessed 3 August 2006
  26. ^ Box office figures at boxofficemojo.com, URL accessed 7 December 2008
  27. ^ Mr. Bean's Holiday at IMDb, URL accessed 4 August 2006
  28. ^ Paramount Comedy, URL accessed 25 February 2007
  29. ^ "Mr Bean Turned Into Cartoon" in The Guardian, 6 February 2001
  30. ^ http://www.youtube.com/mrbean
  31. ^ Bob Roberts, "D'oh! Blair Hounds Simpsons to Drop Dog" inThe Daily Mirror, 31 December 2003
  32. ^ "Military banned from selling their stories" in The Times, 9 April 2007
  33. ^ "Not so much Stalin as Mr. Bean: Gordon Brown is made to play the fool in stage farce" in The Times, 29 November 2007
  34. ^ "EU website hijacked by Mr Bean".
  35. ^ Annotated Mythbusters, URL assessed 2 June 2008