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From Blackadder To Bean: How Rowan Atkinson Made A Fortune For Himself

Josh Teal in  more

Sometimes in life, it does you good to sit back and give thanks to your heroes growing up.

One we've been thinking about here at LADbible is Rowan Atkinson, known exclusively to a majority of my generation for playing the inimitable Mr Bean.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Atkinson - the son of wealthy Durham farmers - didn't initially start out with hopes of making it as an actor or entertainer unlike some of his later contemporaries. When Atkinson attended the University of Newcastle, he enrolled in a electrical engineering course.

It was only when he was studying for a master's degree at Oxford in 1975 that he decided to join the university's famous Revue comedy group, writing sketches with Richard Curtis that within a year had made it to the Edinburgh Festival.

"The decision to pursue a performance career was made after the first year which was when Richard and I first did a revue together which was called After Eights because the Eights are the rowing race in Oxford," Atkinson recalled in a 2013 interview.

Image: PA

"I think it was a pun. And I knew then that, OK, I should give this a go. So the next two years was just spent, Richard and I doing more shows, going to Edinburgh, going to the Edinburgh Fringe quite a bit which we started to do."

One of those shows caught the keen eye of producer John Lloyd, who was entranced by what he saw.

"I rushed backstage after the show and introduced myself. I was convinced he would be more famous than Chaplin," Lloyd said of seeing Atkinson at the Fringe. The two went on to create Not The Nine O'Clock News, in which he starred alongside Pamela Stevenson, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith. In 1981, thanks to his millions-strong viewership, Atkinson became the youngest person to have had a one-man show in the West End.

And then there was Blackadder, or The Blackadder as Atkinson still prefers to call it. "I don't know where the definite article comes from. I think I do call it The Blackadder. Or sometimes The Adder when amongst close friends and intimates," he said.

via GIPHY

Blackadder, which first aired in 1983, featured the difficult relationship between four incarnations of the cold, exploitive Edmund Blackadder and his dim-witted minion, Baldrick, through history, starting with the Crusades and ending with the First World War.

It established Atkinson as one the country's most beloved actors. A show that would set him up nicely for his most famous creation, Mr. Bean.

Bean, a wordless, clumsy, halfwit, quickly captured the hearts of the nation over the course of the five years the show of the same name spanned.

via GIPHY

The evolution of Mr Bean is nothing short of miraculous. Atkinson's character has performed staggeringly well in the US and in Europe. In fact, according to The Richest, he has made roughly £9 million through Bean thanks to the 94 countries he sold it to as well as the 1997 film and subsequent animated series.

All in all, Atkinson is a bit of a secret baller. Notoriously showbiz-shy, he has said he'd rather be reading a car magazine than go to a cinema, and that behind camera he's too self-aware to even play charades.

A stark difference to the commanding entertainer we see on our screens. The Richest claims he is worth around $130 million (£100 million) thanks to the value of his McLaren F1 and his Oxfordshire property. And the fact Johnny English grossed $618 million worldwide.

He has done Top Gear, though, and well. The best, in fact.

Video: Top Gear/BBC

Who needs to do chat shows every other week when you can go on Top Gear once and do that? What a guy.

Here to you Rowan, from Blackadder to Bean to Johnny English all the way to starring in the Olympic Opening Ceremony back in 2012. If you're reading this: lend us a tenner mate?

Featured Image Credit: PA

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Josh Teal

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