21 Facts You Never Knew About Mr Bean!
2021 sees Rowan Atkinsons creation, Mr Bean turn 30 years old. First dreamt up by Rowan Atkinson in the late 70s, it was a whole 11 years before Mr Bean finally made it to TV screens in his own show. When he did, the character proved an instant hit.
From 1990 to 1995, and then in two highly successful movies released in 1997 and 2007 respectively, Mr Bean was established as one of the classic British comic creations.
Created by Atkinson and Richard Curtis, the Mr Bean TV show was enormously popular with family audiences. It was also nominated for several BAFTAs.
Let’s take a look back at the classic show – along with its two film sequels and various other spin-offs – with some fun facts that you may not have known.
21. The character was thought up long ago
Rowan Atkinson originally conceived the idea for Mr Bean when he was studying at Oxford University for his Electrical Engineering Master’s degree.
The character made his first appearance, albeit with the name Robert Box, in Atkinson’s one-off 1979 sitcom Canned Laughter.
Atkinson then performed as Mr Bean at the Edinburgh Fringe in the early 80s, and at Montreal’s Just For Laughs comedy festival in 1987.
20. He almost had a different name
After re-jigging the Robert Box character, Atkinson decided on a name change.
Mr Bean, however, wasn’t originally Mr Bean at all, but the considerably less-appealing Mr White.
After deciding that Mr White didn’t sound quite right, Atkinson decided to name his character after a vegetable: he went with Mr. Cauliflower. Mr Bean was the next and thankfully final choice.
19. He was based on a popular French movie character
English to the core he may be, but Mr Bean’s creation was inspired by another popular character from across the Channel.
Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot, who appeared in six films from 1949 to 1974, was like Mr Bean a silent, bumbling character who would often find himself in awkward social situations.
In a 2015 interview, Atkinson said of Tati: “I loved his movies, and you know, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday I remember seeing when I was 17 – that was a major inspiration. He opened a window to a world that I’d never looked out on before”.
18. It’s not just the Brits that love a bit of Bean
Mr Bean has been massively successful in Britain, but it’s not just us Brits that love his show.
Since first airing in the UK in 1990, the live-action Mr Bean show has been sold to more than 190 countries worldwide.
It’s said that at any point in the last 25 years, Mr Bean was showing somewhere in the world, while 70 territories still have either the live-action or animated Mr Bean shows in syndication this minute.
17. He’s more famous than royalty
Clearly, Mr Bean is known to audiences the world over. You might be surprised at how famous the character actually is, though.
A 2015 poll, aimed at establishing which famous Brits were best known to foreigners living in the UK, produced some surprising results.
It turned out that Mr Bean was better known to non-Brits than Princess Katherine, the wife of Prince William and Britain’s likely future Queen.
16. We know his first name
Casual viewers of Mr Bean might be convinced that the only real info they have on the character is his last name, but this isn’t the case.
During the show, Mr Bean can be seen writing his real full name, while in one scene in the 1997 Mr Bean movie we even get to see his passport.
Both confirm that Mr Bean’s first name is, in fact, “Mr”. Which would make his full title Mr Mr Bean.
15. Mr Bean’s flat changes between episodes
If you watch the show closely, it would seem Mr Bean has trouble staying in one place for too long.
Throughout the run of the show, Mr Bean’s flat changes completely between episodes.
While some episodes see him with a single living room that also houses his bed, others have him in a two-room flat where the bed is in a separate room.
14. He talks that way because of Rowan Atkinson’s stutter
One of Mr Bean’s defining characteristics is his manner of speech. When he does speak, it’s a goofy, hesitant sort of voice.
This was inspired in part by Rowan Atkinson’s own difficulty with his speech growing up. As a child, Atkinson had a crippling stutter, only overcoming it when he learned to use performing as therapy years later.
Atkinson’s main problem was always the letter B; this is why Mr Bean has an odd way of saying his own name.
13. Bean’s voice had been heard before
Mr Bean didn’t just arrive out of nowhere for Rowan Atkinson; he spent years honing the character, on stage and sometimes in front of our very eyes.
The voice that Rowan Atkinson uses for Mr Bean had been used previously by Atkinson on the BBC sketch show Not the Nine O’Clock News.
Audiences first heard Mr Bean when Atkinson used the same voice for that show’s ‘man who likes toilets’ sketch.
12. He’s seriously popular on social media
It might not come as a surprise to you at this point, considering all you now know about Mr Bean and his level of popularity, but the character is huge on social media.
On YouTube, Mr Bean’s clips have more than 1.3 billion views, while on Facebook the character has almost 80,000,000 followers.
This makes him more popular than Will Smith, Taylor Swift and McDonald’s. Not bad for a character whose show ended 23 years ago.
11. Viewing figures for the show were huge
With audiences, Mr Bean was an immediate hit, and the highest rated Mr Bean episode, in terms of audience figures at least, was The Trouble with Mr Bean.
It’s the episode that sees the character going to the dentist and picnicking in the park, where he contends with a pesky wasp.
Aired on 1 January, 1992, the episode was watched by a whopping 18.74 million viewers in the UK.
10. Mr Bean sells
In the world of advertising, they say sex sells, but on the evidence it would seem like Mr Bean lures customers almost as well.
Rowan Atkinson has played his most famous creation in advertising campaigns for many big companies over the years, including Snickers, M&Ms, Nissan and Fujifilm.
Mr Bean also appeared in an ad for the Norwegian supermarket chain Rema 1000, proving just how global the character’s appeal is.
9. The animated series may have confirmed Mr Bean’s origins
Because of his odd nature and a title sequence in which Mr Bean appears to fall to Earth under the gaze of a beam of light, fans have long speculated that the character may in fact be an alien.
The Mr Bean animated series may have actually confirmed this theory. In one episode, the cartoon Bean is beamed aboard an alien spaceship, where he’s met by a few familiar faces.
The aliens aboard the craft are all identical to Mr Bean, with the difference being that they all appear to have different teddies. For many proponents of the alien theory, this was confirmation.
8. Richard Curtis has other ideas about where the character comes from
Richard Curtis, the Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill filmmaker who co-created Mr Bean along with Rowan Atkinson, doesn’t necessarily agree with the ‘Mr Bean is an alien’ hypothesis.
Another popular fan theory is that Mr Bean is in fact a fallen angel – something that Curtis would seem to endorse.
In his 2003 film Love, Actually, Curtis wrote Rowan Atkinson’s character as an angel. It’s not a detail that made it into the film, however, and besides, both Atkinson and Curtis prefer to let audiences make their own minds up on the matter.
7. There were only ever 14 episodes
Given how huge Mr Bean has become, the character – at least, the live-action version of him – barely had any screen time at all.
In addition to the two movies, Mr Bean has just 14 full episodes of television to his name, with the final episode airing over two decades ago.
This is nothing compared to the Mr Bean animated series, of which there have been far more episodes: 104, with another 26 new instalments commissioned for next year.
6. The first Bean movie was record-breakingly successful
1997’s Bean (or, Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie) proved an unlikely smash at the world box office.
In the UK alone, Bean made an impressive $28 million, but worldwide the film grossed a total of $256 million, on a budget of just $18 million, making it one of the most successful ever British productions at the time.
Again proving the character’s global reach, Bean became the first film ever to break $100 million before its US release. It was also the most popular film in Finland that year.
5. Rowan Atkinson’s daughter cameos in Mr Bean’s Holiday
Mr Bean’s Holiday, the 2007 sequel to Bean that in its own right made an impressive $229 million at the box office, features a cameo that even hardcore Mr Bean fans might have missed.
The character credited as Lily at the Stereo – who controls the display at the church fete that Mr Bean wins a holiday at at the beginning of the film – is played by no random extra.
Lily at the Stereo is in fact Lily Atkinson, Rowan Atkinson’s daughter. She also appeared in Johnny English Reborn, another of her father’s films.
4. The character goes by many names around the world
Due to the language barrier, rarely do movie or TV show titles ever make a smooth transition from English into another language.
Mr Bean has been exported to many countries around the world, but he doesn’t go by Mr Bean in all of them. In China, for example, the character is known as Foolish Bean.
Meanwhile, in Vietnam he is Sir Bean, whereas in Finland his show goes by the name Nolojen Tilanteiden Mies, or Man of the Situation.
3. Atkinson retired the character in 2012…
Mr Bean has been kind to Rowan Atkinson – for 28 years, his creation has been enormously, enduringly popular – but it’s no surprise to hear that playing the same character on repeat has its limits.
Understandably tired of performing as Bean, Atkinson announced in late 2012 that he was done playing the character.
Having appeared as Mr Bean at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, Atkinson later that year said he had retirement in mind: “Apart from the fact that your physical ability starts to decline, I also think someone in their 50s being childlike becomes a little sad.”
2. …But he couldn’t say goodbye for long
You know what they say about actors: they’re never really retired. Since expressing his intention to retire Mr Bean in 2012, Rowan Atkinson hasn’t been able to resist playing the character on several occasions.
Atkinson has continued to voice the animated version of Bean, for one, while in 2015 Atkinson appeared as the live-action Mr Bean in a Red Nose Day sketch.
Atkinson has also appeared as Mr Bean in adverts for Snickers since 2014. In 2016, he revealed in an interview that he couldn’t ever really bring himself to retire the character.
1. You probably haven’t seen Mr Bean’s third movie
That’s not all the appearances Mr Bean has made since his ‘retirement’. You very likely won’t have seen or even heard of it, but last year, the character actually starred in his third feature film.
Top Funny Comedian: The Movie, or Huan Le Xi Ju Ren as it’s known in China, is a spin-off of a popular Chinese, Got Talent-style show, and features Rowan Atkinson in a cameo as Mr Bean. To date, the film has only been released in China.
The film, a Hangover-type misadventure movie about four friends trying to find their missing pal on a trip to Macau, marks the last appearance of Mr Bean to date – but who knows where he’ll show up next?