Mr Bean is a British television series which ran for fourteen episodes from 1990 to 1995. Rowan Atkinson stars as the eponymous Mr Bean, a character which he developed while studying for his degree at Oxford University. Atkinson described him as a child in a grown man's body. The series follows his exploits as he attempts to solve everyday tasks, usually causing massive disruptions in the process. The comedy is almost exclusively physical, Bean rarely speaks, and this probably accounts for the great universal success of the series around the world; it was sold to 245 territories around the globe. The series was influenced by physical performers such as Jacques Tati and comedic actors from silent films. During its five-year run it gained huge audience figures, peaking with 18.74 million for the 1991 episode, The Trouble with Mr Bean. It won a number of international awards, notably the Rose D' Or. Bean even put in an appearance at the 2012 London Olympics, playing the organ at the opening ceremony.
Mr Bean lives alone in his small flat and is almost always dressed in his trademark tweed jacket and red tie. His incapacity for doing what are on the face of it, simple tasks, is seemingly at odds with his inventive way of solving the many problems that present themselves in his everyday life.
Despite his weird ways and manner, Bean somehow has a girlfriend called Irma Gobb. She appears in a number of episodes, namely The Curse of Mr Bean, Mr Bean Goes to Town and Merry Christmas, Mr Bean. He generally treats her inconsiderately and the romantic interest seems to be all on Irma's side. In Merry Christmas, Mr Bean Irma finally gives up on him after he fails to propose to her. We never see her again in subsequent episodes. See more about her here.
The two things that Mr Bean seems to not be able to live without are his Teddy Bear and Mini car. His Teddy Bear is perhaps also his best friend. The weird brown sausage shaped object is treated by Bean as though it is alive. The bear is a fixture throughout the series and crops up in the final episode. See more about his Teddy here.
In the very first episode, our protagonist drives around in an orange 1969 Mini which is demolished in an off-screen crash in the final scene. From then on his car of choice is another Mini, a 1976 - 1980 model, coloured green. To protect his beloved car from theft, the usual car-lock is replaced by a bolt-latch with a padlock fitted. Instead of removing the ignition key from the car like most normal people, Bean removes the steering wheel. See more about his car here.
From the very first episode Bean has a long-running feud with the driver of a Reliant Regal Supervan. The driver is unseen and the Reliant van usually gets turned over or pushed out of its parking space by Bean's mini. This is a running gag throughout the series and in a later episode the Reliant owner even pulls over to give the hitchhiking Bean a lift, but Bean pretends not to have seen him.
The character's name had not been decided until the first programme was produced. A number of vegetable based names were explored, such as Mr Cauliflower. His first name is Rowan and this was revealed on Bean's passport in the film Mr Bean's Holiday. Two films featuring Bean have been produced. The first, Bean: The ultimate Disaster Movie was directed by Mel Smith and released in 1997. The film grossed over 250 million globally. Mr Bean's Holiday was the second film and was released in 2007. In 2016 Rowan Atkinson stated that the character would never be retired.
One of the more strange ideas abounding the internet about Mr Bean is that he is in fact an alien. So, where did this idea spring from? Once possibility is that it grew from something that came from Rowan Atkinson's own mouth. He mentioned that Bean "has a slightly alien aspect to him." Another theory is that the idea comes the way he falls from the sky in a beam of light in the opening credits accompanied by a choir singing Ecce homo qui est faba ("Behold the man who is a bean.") The truth is that the opening sequences were intended by the producers to show his status as an "ordinary man cast into the spotlight." Whether an alien or not we can all agree that Bean is a very strange man.
An episode guide for the series can be found on the side menu:
Here are brief synopses for each episode:
Bean takes a maths exam, during which he cheats; goes to the beach and struggles to get into his swimming trunks; and then has to battle to keep awake during a church service.
Outstanding Moment: His ever inventive methods to crib from his neighbouring examinee.
Bean busks for money; he tries out his new credit card; visits a restaurant and is served an awful meal; then accidentally headbutts the Queen at a premiere.
Outstanding Moment: How he hides the obnoxious looking steak tartare in the restaurant.
Bean goes to the swimming baths, leaving the car park without paying; goes to the park for a sandwich; jumps a red light; and then takes his girlfriend, Irma Gobb, to a scary movie.
Outstanding Moment: His inventive and laborious way of making a simple sandwich on the park bench.
Bean buys a new television; then has his camera stolen in the park; leaves his shoe on the top of a car; and then takes his girlfriend to a disco.
Outstanding Moment: His ridiculous methods of tuning his new television set.
Bean drives to a dental appointment late; manages to anaesthetise the dentist; sends a wheelchair out-of-control in the park; and then he has his picnic ruined by wasps.
Outstanding Moment: Late for a dental appointment, he has to get dressed in his car on the way.
Bean saves a man from a heart attack and then inadvertently disables the ambulance; gets locked in a postbox; has an irritating train journey; and then entertains a sick boy on a plane.
Outstanding Moment: Entertaining the young boy on the plane and the groan of disgust when he pops the kid's sick bag.
Bean goes christmas shopping in Harrods; conducts a brass band; attempts to cook a turkey; and then he has a Christmas meal with his girlfriend.
Outstanding Moment: How he manages to get a turkey stuck on his head.
Bean goes for a weekend break at a hotel. He engages in a ridiculous competition with his neighbour; gets food poisoning from some oysters; gets locked out of his room nude; and then has an altercation with Danny La Rue.
Outstanding Moment: His efforts in competing against the man who inhabits the neighbouring hotel room, which ultimately end in disaster.
Bean hosts a New Years Eve party with his friends. The evening is deadly dull and his guests can't wait to leave. Next day he tries a bit of DIY.
Outstanding Moment: The closing scenes which depict his novel technique in decorating his flat with a firework and a tin of paint.
Bean takes a visit to Southsea where he accidentally becomes lumbered with a baby, so he treats it to a day at the funfair. By the end of the day, baby and mother are happily reunited.
Outstanding Moment: Bringing the baby back to ground with a crossbow after the pram gets hooked onto some helium filled balloons.
Bean attends an open day at a school where he unleashes his characteristic brand of mayhem. His day ends in sadness when his beloved mini is crushed by a tank.
Outstanding Moment: Defeating a judo expert by using a very novel technique.
Bean goes to the launderette; then makes a visit to the crazy golf course. He ends up taking a tour around the town before returning to the course; his score is 3427.
Outstanding Moment: Bringing back a sod of earth with a golf ball balanced precariously to the crazy golf course to finish his round.
Bean tries his hand at queue jumping at the hospital; then he goes to see the Queen's guard where he tries to get a picture by comically altering the guard's appearance. At bedtime he is suffering with insomnia, so he cures it using some unusual methods.
Outstanding Moment: The inventive way with which he turns off his bedroom light.
By accident, Bean ends up standing in for the barber, leading to a number of disastrous hairstyles; then he goes to a fete leaving mayhem in his wake; later he loses his train ticket and has to get past the guards, but ends up on a train to Moscow for his trouble.
Outstanding Moment: Commandeering a sheep pen to park his beloved mini car.
It is raining, so Bean ventures into his loft to find an umbrella. sifting through his items he begins to reminisce past adventures, including his dental appointment, a church service and the time his Mini was crushed by a tank.
Other sketches by the bumbling fool can be found here.
The words of the song played in the opening titles and end credits are, "Ecce homo" ("ecce homo qui est faba. Vale homo qui est faba") translate to "behold the man who is a bean. Farewell the man who is a bean". The first episode of the series did not feature this choral piece but had an upbeat instrumental piece instead. Both were composed by Howard Goodall.
Here are some screenshots of the series, featuring one for each episode:
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