An animated movie based on the Mr Bean character is in development.
Star Rowan Atkinson confirmed in an interview: “Having made an animated TV series, we’re now in the foothills of developing an animated movie for Mr Bean.”
The animated Mr Bean series started on ITV in 2002. To date, 130 episodes have been made.
The new film would see the character taking on a bigger feature-length adventure.
Atkinson let the news slip in an interview with Radio Times, in which he was promoting Happy Birthday Mr Bean, the new documentary which will air on ITV this weekend. The one-off show celebrates thirty years of the worldwide hit.
The live-action version of Mr Bean launched on TV in 1990, running until 1995. Since then – thanks in part to its dialogue-free nature allowing it to be watched by all languages – the format become one of the most popular comedies worldwide. The character’s Facebook page is in the top 10 most liked pages in the world, as an indication of the character’s popularity.
Since then, aside from voicing the animated series, Atkinson has reprised the character for two films (1997, 2007), the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, and in a Snickers advert.
Atkinson revealed in the Radio Times interview he doesn’t particularly like portraying the character anymore, saying: “I don’t much enjoy playing him. The weight of responsibility is not pleasant. I find it stressful and exhausting, and I look forward to the end of it.”
However, he says he has committed to an animated film, as “It’s easier for me to perform the character vocally than visually.”
Assessing Mr Bean’s worldwide fame, Atkinson commented: “He actually has a disproportionately high following in Muslim countries and places with stricter creative regimes than our own. A more verbal comic would have difficulties avoiding subjects that offend those with greater sensitivities. But it doesn’t seem to be a problem for Mr Bean.”
The comedy star also said he was against the attempts to include comedy in “hate speech” legislation. “The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us.
“And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’. It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn.
“So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.”
In the interview, the star also hinted that Blackadder might return, saying: “I don’t actually like the process of making anything – with the possible exception of Blackadder. The responsibility for making that series funny was on many shoulders, not just mine.”
Happy Birthday Mr Bean is due to air on ITV on Sunday (10 January) at 8 pm.
Further details on the new film are expected to be revealed in due course.