Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson

Infobox Comedian
name = Rowan Atkinson

imagesize =
caption = Rowan Atkinson promoting the film "Bean" in 1997
birth_name = Rowan Sebastian Atkinson
birth_date = birth date and age|1955|1|6|df=y
birth_place = Consett, County Durham
location = Consett, County Durham, England
genre = Physical comedy
influences = Peter Sellers, Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Tati [ [ Blackadder Hall Blog » Blog Archive » Rowan Interview - no more Bean… or Blackadder ] ]
influenced = Steve Pemberton
yearsactive= 1979-Present
notable_work = "Blackadder"
"The Thin Blue Line"
"Mr. Bean"
spouse = Sunetra Sastry (1990-)
baftaawards = Best Light Entertainment Performance
1981 "Not the Nine O'Clock News"
1990 "Blackadder Goes Forth"
laurenceolivierawards = Best Comedy Performance
1981 "Rowan Atkinson in Revue"

Rowan Atkinson (born 6 January 1955) is an English comedian, actor and writer, famous for his title roles in the British television comedies "Blackadder", "The Thin Blue Line", and "Mr. Bean". He has been listed in "The Observer" as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy, [ [,,1101477,00.html "The A-Z of laughter (part one)", "The Observer"] , 7 December 2003, retrieved 7 January 2007] and amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever in a 2005 poll of fellow comedians. [ [ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Cook voted 'comedians' comedian' ] ]

Early life

Rowan Atkinson was born in Consett, County Durham in 1955.cite news|url=|title=Family Detective - Rowan Atkinson|first=Nick|last=Barratt|publisher=The Daily Telegraph|date=25 August 2007] His parents were Eric Atkinson, a farmer and company director, and his wife Ella May (née Bambridge), who married on 29 June 1945. He has two elder brothers, Rodney Atkinson, a eurosceptic economist who narrowly lost the United Kingdom Independence Party leadership election in 2000, and Rupert Atkinson. [ [ Foreign Correspondent - 22 July 1997: Interview with Rodney Atkinson] , "Australian Broadcasting Corporation", retrieved 27 January 2007] [ [ Profile: UK Independence Party] , "BBC News", 28 July 2006, retrieved 27 January 2007]

Atkinson was raised Anglican.cite news|last=Mann|first=Virginia|coauthors=|title=FOR ROWAN ATKINSON, COMEDY CAN BE FRIGHTENING|pages=|publisher=The Record|date=1992-02-28|url=|accessdate=2007-12-10] He was educated at Durham Choristers School, followed by St Bees School, and studied electrical engineering at Newcastle University..While at school, he was a classmate of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. [ "The Guide to Comedy", "Rowan Atkinson"] , retrieved 7 January 2007] He continued with an MSc at The Queen's College, Oxford, first achieving notice at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1976. At Oxford, he also acted and performed early sketches for the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS), the Oxford Revue and the Experimental Theatre Club (ETC), meeting writer Richard Curtis and composer Howard Goodall, with whom he would continue to collaborate during his career.



After he went to university, Atkinson toured with Angus Deayton as his straight man in an act that was eventually filmed for a television show. After the success of the show, he did a one-off pilot for ITV in 1979 called "Canned Laughter". Atkinson then went on to do "Not the Nine O'Clock News", produced by his friend John Lloyd. He starred on the show along with Pamela Stephenson, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith, and was one of the main sketch writers.

The success of "Not the Nine O'Clock News" led to his starring in the medieval sitcom "The Black Adder", which he also co-wrote with Richard Curtis, in 1983. Despite a mixed reception, a second series was written, this time by Curtis and Ben Elton, and first screened in 1985. "Blackadder II" followed the fortunes of one of the descendants of Atkinson's original character, this time in the Elizabethan era. The same pattern was repeated in two sequels "Blackadder the Third" (1987) (set in the Regency era), and "Blackadder Goes Forth" (1989) (set in World War I). The "Blackadder" series went on to become one of the most successful BBC situation comedies of all time, spawning television specials including "Blackadder's Christmas Carol" (1988) and "" (1988).

Atkinson's other famous creation, the hapless "Mr. Bean", first appeared on New Years Day in 1990 in a half-hour special for Thames Television. The character of Mr. Bean has been likened somewhat to a modern-day Charlie Chaplin. During this time, Atkinson appeared at the "Just for Laughs" comedy festival in Montreal in 1987 and 1989. Several sequels to "Mr. Bean" appeared on television in the 1990s, and it eventually made into a major motion picture in 1997. Entitled "Bean", it was directed by Mel Smith, his former co-star from "Not the Nine O'Clock News". A second movie was released in 2007 entitled "Mr. Bean's Holiday".

Atkinson has fronted campaigns for Hitachi electrical goods, Fujifilm, and Give Blood. Most famously, he appeared as a hapless and error-prone espionage agent in a long-running series for Barclaycard, on which character his title role in "Johnny English" was based. In May 2008 he appeared in the BBC documentary series "Comedy Map of Britain".


Atkinson's film career began in 1983 with a supporting part in the James Bond movie "Never Say Never Again" and a leading role in "Dead on Time" with Nigel Hawthorne. He appeared in former "Not the Nine O'Clock News" co-star Mel Smith's directorial debut "The Tall Guy" in 1989. He also appeared alongside Anjelica Huston and Mai Zetterling in Roald Dahl's "The Witches" in 1990. In 1993 he played the part of Dexter Hayman in "Hot Shots! Part Deux", a parody of Rambo III starring Sylvester Stallone.

Atkinson, with his turn as a verbally bumbling vicar, gained further recognition in the 1994 hit "Four Weddings and a Funeral". That same year he featured in Walt Disney's "The Lion King" as Zazu the Hornbill. Atkinson continued to appear in supporting roles in successful comedies, including "Rat Race" (2001), "Scooby-Doo" (2002), and "Love Actually (2003).

In addition to his supporting roles, Atkinson has also had success as a leading man. His television character Mr. Bean debuted on the big screen in 1997 with "Bean" to international success. A sequel, "Mr. Bean's Holiday", was released in March 2007 and may be the last time he plays the character. [cite news
title = It's not easy being Bean
publisher = Toronto Star
date = 2007-08-22
url =
accessdate = 2007-08-22
] He has also starred in the James Bond parody "Johnny English" in 2003. "Keeping Mum" (2005, released in the U.S. in 2006) was a departure for Atkinson, starring in a straight role.

Comedic style

One of his better-known trademark comic devices is over-articulation of the "B" sound, such as his pronunciation of "Bob" in a "Blackadder" episode.

Atkinson's style is often visually-based. This visual style, which has been compared to Charlie Chaplin, sets Atkinson apart as most modern television and film comedies rely heavily on dialogue, and stand-up comedy is mostly based on monologues. This talent for visual comedy has led to Atkinson being called "the man with the rubber face".


In early 2008 it was confirmed that Atkinson would fulfil a lifelong ambition and take on the role of Fagin in Lionel Bart's musical "Oliver!" which will be produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh. He was quoted as saying, "In the 1980s I enjoyed doing a lot of West End theatre and since then have been distracted very much by Mr Bean and film-making. I had been thinking for some time about returning to the stage, and the idea of the role of Fagin has long intrigued me. I even had the part in a school production." [ [ Showbiz - News - Atkinson to play Fagin in new 'Oliver!' - Digital Spy ] ] The production will open in early December 2008. The roles of Nancy and Oliver were selected by the British public in a TV reality competition on the show. "Jodie Prenger".

Personal life

Marriage and children

Atkinson married Sunetra Sastry in 1990, having met her professionally on the set of "Blackadder".They married quietly at the Russian Tea Room in New York City, U.S., with Stephen Fry acting as the best man. The couple have two children, Lily and Benjamin, and live in England in the Northamptonshire village of Apethorpe.


In June 2005, Atkinson led a coalition of the UK's most prominent actors and writers, including Nicholas Hytner, Stephen Fry and Ian McEwan, to the British Parliament in an attempt to force a review of the controversial Racial and Religious Hatred Bill — on the grounds that the bill would give religious groups a "weapon of disproportionate power" whose threat would engender a culture of self-censorship among artists.


With an estimated wealth of £100 million, Atkinson is able to indulge his passion for cars that began with driving his mother's Morris Minor around the family farm. He has written for the British magazines "Car" and "Evo".

Atkinson also holds a UK LGV licence, gained because lorries held a fascination for him, and to ensure employment as a young actor.

A lover of and participant in car racing, he appeared as racing driver Henry Birkin in the television play "Full Throttle" in 1995. In 1991, he starred in the self-penned " The Driven Man", a series of sketches featuring Atkinson driving around London trying to solve his car-fetish, and discussing it with taxi drivers, policemen, used-car salesmen and psychotherapists. [ [ Rowan Atkinson: The Driven Man - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - New York Times ] ]

Atkinson's car collection is dominated by Aston Martins, including the DB7 Vantage used in "Johnny English". His Aston Martin V8 Zagato, featuring a novelty registration plate, was driven by his character Dexter in the film "The Tall Guy". Atkinson was cited for speeding in the car, just as his character was in the movie. He also received a driving ban as a result of the incident. [ [ Rowan Atkinson News and Trivias at ] ] He also races in his V8 Zagato, from which he escaped unhurt after crashing it into a barrier at an Aston Martin Owners Club event in Croft Circuit in 2001. He is reported to have placed an advanced order for a Morgan Aero Max, which costs £110,000.Fact|date=February 2008

Atkinson has raced in other cars, including a Renault 5 GT Turbo for two seasons for its one make series. He owns one McLaren F1, which was involved in an accident with an Austin Metro. [ [ BBC News | Entertainment | Mr Bean crashes sports car ] ] Other cars he owns include an Audi A8, [] and a Honda Civic Hybrid [ Stars & their Cars:Rowan Atkinson - Celebrity | Fun | MSN Cars UK ] ] .

The Conservative Party politician Alan Clark, himself a devotee of classic motor cars, recorded in his published Diaries this chance meeting with a man he later realised was Atkinson while driving through Oxfordshire in May 1984: "Just after leaving the motorway at Thame I noticed a dark red DBS V8 Aston Martin on the slip road with the bonnet up, a man unhappily bending over it. I told Jane to pull in and walked back. A DV8 in trouble is always good for a gloat." Clark writes that he gave Atkinson a lift in his Rolls Royce to the nearest telephone box, but was disappointed in his bland reaction to being recognised, noting that: "he didn't sparkle, was rather disappointing and chetif." [ [Alan Clark, Diaries (Phoenix, 1993) p80] ]

One car Atkinson will not own is a Porsche: "I have a problem with Porsches. They're wonderful cars, but I know I could never live with one. Somehow, the typical Porsche people — and I wish them no ill — are not, I feel, my kind of people. I don't go around saying that Porsches are a pile of dung, but I do know that psychologically I couldn't handle owning one." [cite news | last = Wormald | first = Andrew | coauthors = Benjamin Atkinson | title = Stars & their Cars:Rowan Atkinson | work = | pages = 1 | publisher = MSN | date = 6 October 2005 | url = | accessdate = 2007-07-01

  • ^ "a""b" [ The Museum of Broadcast Communications - Rowan Atkinson article] , retrieved 7 January 2007
  • ^ "a""b" [ The Museum of Broadcast Communications - Rowan Atkinson article] , retrieved 7 January 2007
  • ]

    Television appearances

    * "The Secret Policeman's Ball" (1979), a charity special for Amnesty International
    * "Not the Nine O'Clock News" (1979–1982)
    * "Blackadder" as Prince Edmund (Series 1), Lord Blackadder (Series 2), Edmund Blackadder (Series 3 & 4) & Ebenezer Blackadder ("Blackadder's Christmas Carol") (1983-1989)
    * "Mr. Bean" as Mr. Bean (1989–1995, 1997, 2002, 2007)
    * "Bernard and the Genie" as Bernard's Boss (1991) (TV movie)
    * "Funny Business" (1992), a documentary about the craft of comedy
    * "The Thin Blue Line" as Inspector Raymond Fowler(1995–1996)
    * The Comic Relief Red Nose Day telecasts, including appearing in:
    **"" as Edmund Blackadder (1988)
    **"Mr Bean's Red Nose Day" as Mr Bean (1991)
    **"(I Wanna Be) Elected" as Mr Bean (1992)
    **"Blind Date with Mr Bean" as Mr Bean (1993)
    **"Torvill and Bean" as Mr Bean (1995)
    **"Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death" as The Doctor (1999)
    **"Popsters" as Nasty Neville (2001)
    **"Lying to Michael Jackson" as Martin Bashir (2003)
    **"Spider-Plant Man" as Peter Piper and Spider-Plant Man (2005)
    **"Mr. Bean's Holiday as Mr Bean (2007)
    **"Scooby Doo


    Live show

    * "Rowan Atkinson Live" (2007), a DVD release of a filmed 1991 performance in Boston
    # A Warm Welcome
    # Fatal Beatings
    # And Now From Nazareth, The Amazing...
    # Invisible Man
    # The Good Loser
    # Elementary Dating
    # Guys After The Game
    # It Started With A Sneeze
    # With Friends Like These...



    * "Rowan Atkinson Live in Belfast" (1980, re-released 1996)
    * "Not Just a Pretty Face" (1987, re-released 1994)


    * "The Secret Policeman's Ball" (1979)
    * "Not The Nine O'Clock News – The Album" (1980)
    * "We Are Most Amused: The Best of British Comedy" (1981)


    *Variety Club Award for BBC Personality of the Year - 1980 [ The Museum of Broadcast Communications - Rowan Atkinson article] , retrieved 7 January 2007]
    *BAFTA Best Light Entertainment Performance - 1989


    External links

    * [ Rowan Atkinson biography at BFI Screenonline]

    NAME= Atkinson, Rowan
    ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Atkinson, Rowan Sebastian
    SHORT DESCRIPTION= Comedian, actor, writer
    DATE OF BIRTH= 6 January 1955
    PLACE OF BIRTH= Consett, County Durham, England

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