Mr Bean (ITV, 1990-1995)
Seemingly not satisfied with appearing in two of the best British comedy shows of the 1980s in Not The Nine O’Clock News and Blackadder, the great Rowan Atkinson who is often referred to as “the rubber-faced funnyman” went on to appear in a third terrific show in the 1990s when he put his mime skills to brilliant use by becoming the classic comedy character Mr Bean.
The first episode of Mr Bean was shown on New Year’s Day 1990 on ITV and it became an instant hit. The idea with the scheduling of the show was that there would be no regular series, with each episode being shown individually. This was because the writers didn’t want exhaust all the ideas at once, and because it would mean every new episode became a big event. I definitely remember looking forward to them. Unsurprisingly, the show has won many awards and achieved very high ratings.
The idea with the show is that of course it is virtually dialogue free, and it has been enjoyed around the world. Of course the character of Mr Bean is rather strange, he is often seen wearing his tweed jacket as he tries to solve simple situations such as painting a wall or playing a game of golf in complex ways, or come up with creative ideas that seem straightforward to him but bizarre to everyone else.
His origin is unclear, from the second episode onwards in the title sequence it seems that he has been beamed down to Earth, maybe because his mission is to cause as much chaos on Earth as possible. This sequence was accompanied curiously by what must be one of the most sombre themes that there has have ever been for a comedy show.
As the episodes go by Mr Bean drives around in his car going from one amusing situation to the next, and a few guest stars in every episode turned up wondering what he was doing, including Angus Deayton and Richard Wilson. We also see his girlfriend in a few episodes and discover that he likes to sleep with his teddy wherever he goes. In later episodes he also seemed to lose his trousers with alarming regularity.
Only 13 episodes of Mr Bean were originally shown on TV, but there was an extra 14th one made that has been released on VHS and DVD which has since turned up on TV in more recent years. The story didn’t end there though. Two great films have been made, Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie in 1997, and Mr Bean’s Holiday a decade later. There has also been an animated version which is shown regularly on CITV. There was also a brilliant book released in the early-90s and he even had a hit single. He has also made a few appearances on TV shows and charity events such as Comic Relief and in adverts up to the present day.
There are so many great sketches to choose from, one of my favourites was when Mr Bean was in a restaurant and didn’t enjoy his food and generally caused havoc around him, I think I laughed at that one more than any other sketch, the Christmas special was great too, but 25 years on I think they’re all brilliant really.