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Rowan Atkinson

Born in Newcastle upon the River Tyne, Rowan Atkinson has become one of the best-known British comic talents of his generation. In 1977, Atkinson attracted wide critical notice whilst performing at the Edinburgh Festival. The following year, he mounted his own review at London's Hampstead Theatre and became a founding member of the BBC's Not the Nine O'Clock News team. The series quickly became a major success, running a total of four seasons, spawning platinum and gold albums and many best-selling books, and garnering a Silver Rose at the Rose d'Or Festival in Montreux, an International Emmy and a British Academy Award. In the process, Atkinson was also named BBC Personality of the Year.

In 1981, Atkinson became the youngest performer to have a one-man show in London's West End; the sell-out season at the Globe Theatre won him The Society of West End Theatres' Award for Comedy Performance of the Year. In 1983, he embarked with writer Richard Curtis on their situational tragedy The Black Adder, for the BBC. Over the ensuing five years, the Black Adder series won three British Academy Awards, an International Emmy, three CableACE awards and personal awards for Atkinson's performance, including Best Entertainment Performance. Once again, he was voted BBC Personality of the Year.

On stage, Atkinson took the lead in Larry Shue's The Nerd, at the Aldwych Theatre in 1985. The following year, he starred in a one-man show in the West End, which moved to Broadway after a sell-out season. The show went on to tour successfully in Australia, New Zealand, the Far East and the U.K. In 1988, he starred in a West End production of The Sneeze, a collection of humourous one-act plays by Anton Chekhov.

Atkinson's next major television undertaking was the creation of the silent comedy series Mr. Bean, for ITV and HBO. The pilot won the Golden Rose at Montreux and was nominated for an International Emmy. Subsequent episodes continued to win awards, including an International Emmy, two Banff Awards and a CableACE Award for Best Comedy in 1995. Since its debut, the series has been sold to more than 200 territories and has reached classic status: Mr. Bean was the highest-rated comedy show of the decade on commercial television. The show was produced by Tiger Aspect, of which Atkinson was a partner and for which he also appeared in a number of highly successful documentary programs on subjects ranging from comedy to his passion, the motorcar.

In 1995, Atkinson starred in the lead role of Inspector Raymond Fowler in the first season of Tiger Aspect's No. 1-rated situation comedy The Thin Blue Line, written by Ben Elton. A second season was produced in the summer of 1996. Tiger Aspect also produced the ACW award-winning Rowan Atkinson on Location in Boston, a one-hour special featuring highlights from his stage shows, for HBO and the BBC. The production won a CableACE Award in 1993.

He has appeared in a number of films, including Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery; The Tall Guy, with Jeff Goldblum; Nicolas Roeg's The Witches; and The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, for HBO, which won the 1989 Oscar for Best Short Film (Live Action). His other film appearances include Hot Shots! Part Deux, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Lion King as the voice of Zazu.

He also co-produced and appeared in 1997's Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie. The Polygram film, produced by Working Title in association with Tiger Aspect, was a huge hit and became one of the highest-grossing U.K. films internationally.

Throughout 2000, Blackadder Back & Forth, a film shot on 70 mm, was shown at London's Millennium Dome. With Atkinson portraying Edmund Black Adder for the first time in a decade, the comedy features all the other stars of the original television series and proved to be the most popular attraction at the Dome.

In 2001, Atkinson appeared as Enrico Pollini in Jerry Zucker's Rat Race, also starring Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., and John Cleese. He also appeared in the 2002 Warner Bros. comedy Scooby-Doo, playing the villain Mondavarious.

Following this, Atkinson completed production on Mr. Bean: The Animated Series, for Tiger Aspect Productions, and the feature Johnny English, in which he starred in the title role. Johnny English was written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Casino Royale), directed by Peter Howitt (Sliding Doors) and produced by Working Title Films.

Atkinson appeared as Rufus the jewelry salesman in Working Title's 2003 hit romantic comedy Love Actually, directed by Richard Curtis, with an ensemble cast including Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor. In 2005, he played the Reverend Walter Goodfellow in Keeping Mum, directed by Niall Johnson, starring opposite Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas. In 2007, Atkinson co-wrote and starred in the feature Mr. Bean's Holiday, directed by Steve Bendelack.

In 2009, Atkinson returned to the stage in the role of Fagin in the hit stage musical Oliver!, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2011.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Rowan Atkinson Facts

Birth NameRowan Sebastian Atkinson
BirthdayJanuary 6, 1955 (67)
BirthplaceNewcastle-upon-Tyne, England, United Kingdom
Height6' (1m83)  How tall is Rowan Atkinson compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Johnny English (2003) as Johnny English
Love Actually (2003)
Scooby-Doo (2002)
Bean (1997) as Mr. Bean
Black Adder (1983) tv user recommendation (breakthrough)
Mr. Bean tv as Mr. Bean
Rat Race as Competitor With Narcolepsy
The Thin Blue Line tv
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