JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN
Born in Newcastle upon the River Tyne, ROWAN ATKINSON (Johnny English) 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 OscarĀ® 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
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.
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