Mr. Bean


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Mr. Bean was a British comedy television series of 14 half-hour episodes starring Rowan Atkinson as the eponymous title character. It was written by Rowan Atkinson, Robin Driscoll, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. The self-titled first episode was broadcast on 1 January 1990, with the final episode, "Goodnight, Mr. Bean", on 31 October 1995.

The series followed 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.

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", and was the recipient of a number of international awards, including the Rose d'Or. The show has been sold in over 200 territories worldwide, as well as inspiring two feature films and an animated cartoon spin-off.

The title character, played by Atkinson, is a childlike, sometimes ingenious, and generally likeable buffoon who frequently gets into hilarious situations due to his various schemes and contrivances. He lives alone in his small flat in Highbury, North London, and is almost always seen in his trademark tweed jacket and skinny red tie. Mr. Bean rarely speaks, and when he does it is generally only a few mumbled words. His first name (he names himself "Bean" to others) and profession, if any, are never mentioned. (In the film adaptation, on his passport "Mr." appears under 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 tasks, such as going swimming, redecorating or taking an exam. The humour largely comes from his original solutions to any problems and his total disregard for others when solving them. Indeed, some of Bean's actions occasionally have a particularly malevolent aspect to them.

At the beginning of episode two onwards, Mr. Bean falls from the sky in a beam of light. 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; later, in the animated series, he was shown to be an alien. Atkinson himself has acknowledged that Bean "has a slightly alien aspect to him".

Teddy is Mr. Bean's teddy bear, generally regarded as Mr. Bean's best friend. Although inanimate, the bear is often party to Mr. Bean's various schemes and doubles as a good dish cloth or paint brush in an emergency. The bear is a dark brown, knitted oddity with button eyes and sausage-shaped limbs and invariably ends up broken in half or in various other states of destruction. Occasionally, Teddy seems to be almost animate, for example when Mr. Bean hypnotizes Teddy, snaps his fingers and the bear's head falls backwards as if he's fallen asleep instantly. Certainly, Bean behaves as if the bear is real, for example buying it a Christmas present or trying not to wake it in the mornings.

Mr. Bean's car, a Mk III Austin Mini 1000, developed a character of sorts. At first, an orange 1969 Morris Mini Cooper (registration RNT 996H) was Mr. Bean's vehicle of choice, but this was crashed at the end of the first episode. From then on, the car was a 1977 model (registration SLW 287 R), illuminous lime green in colour with a black bonnet. It made its first appearance in "The Curse of Mr. Bean".

The Mini was central to several antics, such as Mr. Bean getting dressed in it whilst driving or steering it whilst sitting in an armchair strapped to the roof. It also had a number of innovative security measures; Mr. Bean fitted the door with a bolt-latch and padlock, rather than use the lock fitted on the car, and he always removed the steering wheel instead of the key, which formed a running joke in several episodes, at one point deterring a car thief. In one episode, he also hid the ignition key under the car bonnet, the key for the bonnet was kept in the boot, the key for the boot was attached to the sun visor above the drivers seat. The key to the car door was the only key Bean kept with him. The car, confused with another demonstration car of the exact same model, 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.

The Mini is often seen in conflict with a light blue Reliant Regal Supervan III, (registration GRA 26 K), which will usually get tipped over, crashed into, bumped out of its parking space and so forth. This conflict originated in the first episode, when the three-wheeler held his Mini up on the way to a mathematics exam, and subsequently became a running joke throughout the series.

One of the original Mr. Bean Minis is on display at the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Keswick, northern England. Both the Mini and the Reliant re-appeared as characters in the animated Mr. Bean cartoons.

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).

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 Years party guests in the episode "Do-it-Yourself, Mr. Bean". 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, Caroline Quentin, David Schneider and Richard Wilson.

The character of Mr. Bean was first developed when Rowan Atkinson was studying for his PhD at Oxford University, with a sketch featuring the character first being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in the early 1980s. However, the name of the character was not decided after the first programme had been produced, with a number of other vegetable-influenced names, such as Mr. Cauliflower, being explored. Rowan Atkinson has cited the earlier comedy character Monsieur Hulot, created by French comedian and director Jacques Tati, as an influence on the character of Mr. Bean. Stylistically, Mr. Bean is also very similar to early silent films, relying purely upon physical comedy, with Mr. Bean speaking very little dialogue. This has allowed the series to be sold worldwide without any significant changes to dialogue.

Mr. Bean is unusual amongst comedy series in featuring 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 commercial break)
* Pars secunda – "Part two" (sung after the commercial break)
* Vale homo qui est faba – "Farewell, man who is a bean" (sung at end)

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.

The programme was produced by Tiger Television, later renamed Tiger Aspect productions (a company in which Atkinson has a stake), for Thames Television and originally shown on ITV. In the United States the show has been broadcast on non-commercial public television stations intermittently and has been available on DVD since 2003. In the US, a DVD of the best episodes came out in August 2006.

The show is now only shown in the UK on Nickelodeon (at 12:00pm and 6:00pm) and Paramount Comedy 2 (at 10:00pm). Usually, episodes shown on Nickelodeon are the episodes broadcast the night before of Paramount Comedy 2.

In Canada, the show is shown occasionally on CBC and currently airs on the Spanish-language version of A&E in Latin America.

In India, it is aired on Pogo TV.

The first episode won the prestigious 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 1992, and Rowan Atkinson was nominated three times for "Best Light Entertainment Performance" in 1991, 1992 and 1994.

Mr. Bean was revived in a 2002 animated cartoon series, again featuring little actual dialogue, with most being either little soundbites or mumbling. Some people have questioned the point of an animated Mr. Bean; although he is now capable of far stranger adventures (and facial expressions), they lack the interest generated when it was an actual person doing it. However, an animated character is much more endearing to younger children than an actor.

The series also 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 Glover, Rupert Degas, Gary Martin and Lorelei King.

The cartoon series is notable for following up on the "alien" origin theory for the character, with its final episode revealing a race of identical Beans who come to retrieve their lost friend, only to have him opt to stay on Earth with his girlfriend.

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. Many fans of the original series were quite disappointed with this Americanisation required to sell it overseas, yet the movie grossed over USD$230 million globally on a budget estimated at $22 million.

News broke in March 2005 that a new Bean film, Mr. Bean's Holiday was in development, with Atkinson to return in the title role. The film has been through several changes of name during its development, including Bean 2 and French Bean. It is to be released in 2007 and will be directed by Steve Bendelack. Filming began on May 15, 2006 and is in post-production as of October 2006.

* In Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean, while playing with Queen's Royal Guards figurines and the nativity set, he hums "The British Grenadiers", which was used as theme to Blackadder Goes Forth.

During a 2003 episode of The Simpsons when they visit London, they are greeted at the airport by British prime minister Tony Blair, whom Homer Simpson misidentifies as Mr. Bean.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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