MR BEAN IS 30 & FRIENDS
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Saturday 23rd January 2021
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
MR BEAN CELEBRATES 30 YEARS DOCUMENTARY & FRIENDS STEAL HIS SKETCH
Mr. Bean is a British sitcom created by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis, produced by Tiger Aspect and starring Atkinson as the title character. The sitcom consists of 15 episodes that were co-written by Atkinson alongside Curtis and Robin Driscoll; for the pilot, it was co-written by Ben Elton. The series was originally broadcast on ITV, beginning with the pilot on 1 January 1990 and ending with “The Best Bits of Mr. Bean” on 15 December 1995.
Happy Birthday Mr Bean review: A cosy celebration of an absurd comic figure
Marking the 30th birthday of one of ITV’s most successful series, this documentary is worth watching for the rarity of Atkinson talking about his work
Like his great comic creation Mr Bean, Rowan Atkinson doesn’t say much. He likes his private life, I believe, and therefore generally doesn’t talk to the press, who’d only use it as an excuse to invade his privacy just as surely as a mob of Trumpists on a day trip to the Capitol, and with similar desecration to the national monument.
A cosy ITV documentary celebrating the 30th birthday of one of the channel’s most successful series is another matter entirely. Partly because of how rare it is, it’s always interesting to hear Atkinson talk about his work, even in such a tame format, padded with lots of familiar clips, not least when Mr Bean ends up flapping around his bedsit with his head jammed up a turkey.
As Atkinson explains, Mr Bean is indeed pretty much a slightly exaggerated, non-verbal version of himself – a bit more childish, maladroit and more inclined to take his ingenious answers to everyday dilemmas to their logical absurd conclusion. Hence sticking an armchair on the roof of the famous green Bean Mini, and driving the car from up there (because there’s no room for the chair inside, obviously) – probably the best of the only 14 episodes ever made.
If there is a central driving feature, if you’ll pardon the pun, to the whole Atkinson/Bean phenomenon, it is “perfectionism”. As Atkinson analyses it in the soft, modulated voice we hear so seldom, “it’s not a particularly attractive quality. More a disease than a quality. It’s very debilitating. Very draining.”
The various collaborators gathered for the birthday party agree on Atkinson’s insistence on multiple takes and attention to detail, as well as his obvious gifts for physical comedy. Fellow writers Richard Curtis and Robin Driscoll thanked the gods that they tripped over Atkinson/Bean, so much so that Curtis calls Atkinson his “brother”. All concerned, including Tony “Baldrick” Robinson and Matilda Ziegler (who played Bean’s girlfriend Irma Gobb) are generous in their praise, with only Angus Deayton pointing out the sad truth that any actor who shared the screen with Bean was necessarily confined to a menu of Bean reaction shots – alarm, surprise, disapproval, and the odd slice of condescension.
Anyway, not long after the 1990 pilot, Bean went global, reaching an audience of 1.2 billion and spawning two films, an animation series, and a famous appearance at the 2012 London Olympics (which Atkinson points out wasn’t Bean at all but another, Beanesque character cultivated from Atkinson’s stem cells). By the late 1990s, Atkinson’s rubbery features were the seventh most recognisable face on the planet, and the size of his fortune can’t be far behind.
The Beanfeast was all about Bean, and therefore Atkinson, which is fair enough. He deserves it. For Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder, Bean, Johnny English, Maigret and much else. Even so, I’d have liked to have seen a bit more about M Hulot and Buster Keaton, who the creators say inspired Bean.
There’s talk of a return of the character, and I have a feeling that a seasoned Bean, even more strange, infantile and self-centred than younger Bean, would fit into our rather strange, infantile and self-centred 2020s very well indeed. Older and nastier would be the key. Just imagine how Mr Bean would deal with social distancing, compulsory face coverings and frequent hand-washing through improvisation and evasion. Welcome back, old Bean.
FRIENDS STOLE MR BEAN SKETCH!
Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis accuse Friends of stealing their Mr Bean joke
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New in January on Amazon, Netflix, HBO, and other platforms
Rowan Atkinson wearing a suit and tie© Provided by The Independent
Rowan Atkinson has accused Friends of stealing a joke from his Mr Bean sitcom.
The comedy actor made the claims in a new ITV series honouring his comedy character for his 30th anniversary.
In the show, titled Happy Birthday Mr Bean, Atkinson remembered a 1992 scene from his comedy show in which the character is seen running around with a turkey on his head.
Six years later, US sitcom Friends directly emulated this joke for its 1996 episode “The One With All The Thanksgivings”.
It shows Joey (Matt LeBlanc) frantically running around with a turkey stuck on his head.
Monica (Courteney Cox) is also shown wearing the turkey head later in the episode.
“When we made the Bean movie in 1996 we decided to plagiarise ourselves and use the turkey on the head joke again,” Atkinson said, adding: “Also shooting in the 1990s was Friends – and they stole the joke.”
Atkinson said that, due to reusing the joke for Mr Bean’s big screen adventure, many people then assumed it was the opposite way around and that he had stolen the joke from Friends.
Mr Bean used the turkey gag six years before ‘Friends’Tiger Aspect Productions / Warner Bros. Television Distribution© Provided by The Independent Mr Bean used the turkey gag six years before ‘Friends’Tiger Aspect Productions / Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Also speaking on the documentary was Atkinson’s collaborator Richard Curtis, who wrote the turkey gag.
“I’m absolutely dazzled by the Friends thing,” he said. “I only saw it the other day. I literally can’t believe what happened there. Bizarre.”
Atkinson added: “In the end, you can’t steal jokes. But jokes are there to be stolen, or to inspire. Inspire others.”
TOP TEN + TEN OF THE DAY
TOP TWENTY CIRCUSES PAST & PRESENT
- Bertram Mills Circus UK
- Billy Smart UK
- Blackpool Tower Circus UK
- Bobby Roberts Super Circus UK
- Chinese State Circus UK
- Chipperfield’s Circus UK
- Continental Circus Berlin UK
- Duffy’s Circus UK
- Fossett’s Circus Ireland
- Gerry Cottle UK
- Gifford’s Circus UK
- Great British Circus UK
- Moscow Circus Russia
- Ringling Brothers Circus U.S.
- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus U.S.
- Royal Circus and Equestrian Philharmonic Academy UK
- Tom Arnold UK
- Travelling Light Circus UK
- Zippos Circus UK
- Planet Circus UK
BONUS – Hippodrome Circus UK
DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH EVERYDAY
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
“The best investment you can make, is an investment in yourself… The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.”
— Warren Buffett
Happiness is…a visit to the Circus (the ones without animals of course).
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
I’m great at multitasking. I can waste time, be unproductive, and procrastinate all at once.
Love is…deeper than any ocean.
A time to laugh at the clowns at the circus…A time to laugh at Mr Bean
23 January 1986 – The first ten musicians are inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame – James Brown, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard
23 January1983 – The A-Team debuts on US TV
©2021 Phil M Robinson