Raymond & Mr Timpkins Revue
Reginald D Hunter
Rev Obadiah Steppenwolf III
Roy Chubby Brown
Ruth E Cockburn
Blackadder Rides Again
Rowan Atkinson back on location for BBC One documentary
More Rowan Atkinson videos
|Blackadder Rides Again|
Born in Consett, near Durham, Rowan Atkinson was educated at Durham Choristers School, and St Bees School, before going on to study electrical engineering at Newcastle University and a master's degree at Queen's College, Oxford. There he performed sketches with the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the Experimental Theatre Club, where he met writer Richard Curtis.
He took part in various student revues at the Edinburgh Fringe from 1973 to 1977, followed by a revue in London's Hampstead Theatre in 1978 called Beyond A Joke.
That year, he was offered his own television series by ITV but turned it down in favour of Not the Nine O'Clock News, for which he also wrote many of the sketches.
His performance in the Secret Policeman's Ball Amnesty benefits in 1979 - where he was one of the most junior comics alongside the likes of John Cleese and Peter Cook - helped cement his reputation. And he returned for the Secret Policeman's Other Ball in 1981. That year, he also performed in revue with Richard Curtis at London's Globe Theatre.
His growing success led to his starring in the medieval sitcom The Black Adder, which he also co-wrote with Richard Curtis, in 1983. For the remaining three series (in 1985, 1978 and 1989), Ben Elton replaced Atkinson as co-writer.
Atkinson toured with Angus Deayton as his sidekick in 1986 and again in 1991. He also appeared at Montreal's Just For Laughs festival in 1987 and 1989. His stand-up shows were released in two albums: Live In Belfast in 1982, and Not Just A Pretty Face in 1987.
Also on stage, he performed in The Nerd in 1984-85 and in Chekov's The Sneeze in 1988-89, both at the Adwych Theatre in the West End. In 2009, he will return to the stage to play Fagin in the revival of Oliver!
Other than Blackadder, his most famous creation is Mr Bean, a silent nerdish character, a version of who first appeared in the live shows. A total of 18 half-hour specials were made for ITV between 1990 and 1995. A huge international hit, thanks to the comedy not depending on language, the character appeared in his own blockbuster movie in 1997 and a follow-up is due for release in 2007. An animated children's series was launched in 2002.
Atkinson's other film credits include The Tall Guy in 1989, a cameo as a vicar in 1994's Four Weddings And A Funeral, the voice of Zazu in The Lion King in 1994, spy spoof Johnny English in 2003, and Love Actually also in 2003.
He was also one of the founders of Comic Relief, appearing in the original 1986 live show and making various appearances in the telethons over the years. He also starred in the Ben Elton-penned police sitcom The Thin Blue Line in 1995-6.
Away from his work, Atkinson prefers a life out of the spotlight, living in a secluded manor house in Oxfordshire with his wife Sunetra, who he married in 1990, his two children, Lily and Benjamin, and large collection of cars.
We Are Not Amused 2012
There were moments in the first half of the Prince’s Trust star-studded We Are Most Amused fundraiser where simply watching the performance seemed like an act of charity, with a series of ill-judged ideas casting a pall over the night that the real stand-ups had to battle to overturn.
Compere Ben Elton was one such mood-killer. He’s a patron of the charity and tonight’s creative director – and treated us to the coup of a Blackadder comeback sketch to close the night. But for all the brilliant work he put into the night, he’s no stand-up any more, and his opening monologue came within a whisker of dying completely, with long rants playing to silence.
Just moaning about Starbucks calling their small coffees ‘tall’ or whining about being put on hold doesn’t really cut it, and sound more like the grumblings of an out-of-touch old man – however structurally sound the routines, or how much incredulous emphasis he puts into delivering his complaints. Occasionally a well-drawn image would break the dreariness – such as his descriptions of the massive popcorn and drinks containers sold in cinemas – but he set the bar low.
Opening act Stephen K Amos would surely have been a better host. He might not be as famous as Elton, but he’s got a friendliness people warm to, and a few cracking lines – even if the best, about him being one of twins, comes courtesy of his blunt-speaking mother. Amos is no stranger to performing to royals, of course, and when he played this very benefit in 2008, Prince Harry infamously told him afterwards: ‘You don't sound like a black chap.’ Perhaps wisely, that story didn’t make his routine tonight – although an even more racist comment from an Adelaide radio DJ did.
Next up a truly dismal sketch, in which Sanjeev Bhaskar and Helen Lederer played a wine-chugging middle-class couple feigning concern for the education system while really being self-serving and callous. The premise might have been OK, but the script was laugh-free – so imagine the audience’s indifference when it turned out this would be a recurring scenario over the night. By the third time they reappeared, the disappointment was actually audible.
Another misfire quickly followed, with Jon Culshaw appearing as Simon Cowell and ‘singing’ what allegedly could have been his X Factor song – just a list of words associated with him, like ‘high trousers’ and ‘Sinitta’ listed in the style of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire. Sorry, Jon, you shouldn’t go through to the next round.
Bhaskar returned for a brief, inconsequential linking slot when he imagined the Royal Albert Hall as an intimate Indian wedding venue, then it was left to Patrick Kielty to try to get the audience properly laughing again. He had something of a fight on his hand, from such a cold start, and after a hit-and-miss routine discovered that the harsh jokes were what the crowd wanted, regardless of whether they were really the sort of gags you should be telling in front of Charles and Camilla.
But if Kielty was rude, it was a mere hors d’oeuvre for the unashamedly vulgar Joan Rivers, in true bilious mood, bitching about how old people depress her and how she hates handicapped people – a feeling born from having to look after one. Shocked laughs came from her discussing her 79-year-old vagina... and even her unreconstructed racist material about all Mexicans being ugly and the Chinese eating dogs, even though it’s not to be encouraged. Still, the passion of her performance filled the space like no one else could.
Culshaw partially redeemed himself in his second appearance of the night, showing his considerable talents for mimicry of various characters... which makes you wonder why he insists on having each of them say their name rather than allowing the audience to figure it out for themselves. Material-wise, his jokes about George Bush’s linguistic atrocities are well beyond their tell-by date, but his brisk and entertaining round-up of some telly comedians could save you a fortune on DVDs this Christmas.
He came back after the interval as Boris Johnson, for no good reason, to introduce comedy band The Midnight Beast, for the kids. At the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy, though, a combination of poor acoustics and poor diction made it very difficult to discern any of their lyrics - which is something of a drawback if that’s where the jokes lie. Still, the music of Medium Pimpin' and Just Another Boyband got the section off to an energetic start.
After Elton returned, Milton Jones took to the stage with his deliciously eccentric one-liners, most of which took a second or two for the penny to drop. Skilful writing, including an imaginative callback to someone else’s earlier material, made him one of the strongest acts on the bill – and kicked off a run of stand-ups who knew what they were doing.
Omid Djalili went down well, too, with his silly mix of ethnic piss-taking and Godzilla impressions, and showed a flash of treasonable insubordination with a very funny line about the work the Prince’s Trust does. There’s a bit too heavy a reliance on funny accents in some of his older material that got an airing tonight, but in the style of a slightly old-fashioned entertainer, entertain is what he did.
Observational Ed Byrne kicked off with some cliched material about airline travel - the dumb questions at check-in, the confiscation of tweezers as if you could bring a jet down with grooming products etc – before moving on to more distinctive, and funnier, observations on the same subject, which turned out to need at least a bit of that earlier, hackier stuff to work. And he has the best ‘bathroom scales’ routine in the business.
Almost finally, Jimmy Carr doing something good for Britain’s underprivileged. No, not pay his taxes - but deliver for charity his usual stream of slick one-liners, starting with the silly and moving into increasingly dark territory about shagging around and non-consensual sex. But it’s not about morals, it’s about wordplay – at which he is a master engineer.
Then came that Blackadder sketch – which started rather clunkily (and even managed a ‘what about her knockers?’ joke which would have been dated by the end of Seventies) despite Miranda Hart's best efforts. But it burst into life when Rowan Atkinson made his surprise appearance, proving his comic genius at infusing every line with wit that even the writer might not have seen. The script got sharper and more satirical too, andTony Robinson’s Baldrick completing the double-act made the scene even more special... giving punters who paid up to £125 a ticket something memorable for their money.
|Date of live review: Thursday 29th Nov, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
I love the caracter Mr.Bean I go laughing around like a little child!
Blackadder is my favourite sitcom of all time, and Rowan has completely made this character his own. Absolutely amazing.
Wishing Mr Rowan Atkinson a very happy birthday on 6th january 2007. I don't think, age matters for this actor. Every year he only adds new life to the year that adds up.
Mr. Rowan is a very popular actor in India, especially in all major cities. We are all looking forward to his next film French Bean. His serials are highly appreciated for the kind of humor he creates for relieving stress in this new lifestyle. Kindly arrange his visit to India.
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Blackadder": The Complete Collected Series 1, 2, 3, 4 and Specials
Blackadder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition
Rowan Atkinson: Live
Recorded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1992
Mr Bean: Vol 1-5
Mr Bean: Vols 1-5
The complete TV series