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Mr. Bean is a British sitcom created by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis, produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, and starring Atkinson as the title character. The sitcom consisted of 15 episodes that were co-written by Atkinson, alongside Curtis and Robin Driscoll; for the pilot, it was co-written by Ben Elton. 14 of the episodes were broadcast on ITV, beginning with the pilot on 1 January 1990, until "The Best Bits of Mr. Bean", a compilation episode, on 15 December 1995. The fourteenth episode, "Hair by Mr. Bean of London", was not broadcast on television, until 25 August 2006 on Nickelodeon.
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Based on a character originally developed by Atkinson while he was studying for his master's degree at Oxford University, the series follows the exploits of Mr. Bean, described by Atkinson as "a child in a grown man's body", in solving various problems presented by everyday tasks and often causing disruption in the process. Bean rarely speaks, and the largely physical humour of the series is derived from his interactions with other people and his unusual solutions to situations. The series was influenced by physical performers such as Jacques Tati and comic actors from silent films.
During its five-year run, Mr. Bean was viewed by as many as 18.74 million for the 1992 episode "The Trouble with Mr. Bean". The series has received a number of international awards, including the Rose d'Or. The show has been sold in 245 territories worldwide and has inspired an animated cartoon spin-off, and two feature films, along with Atkinson reprising his role as Mr. Bean for a performance at the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, a commercial for Snickers in 2014, and a number of sketches for Comic Relief.
The character of Mr. Bean was developed while Rowan Atkinson was studying for his master's degree in electrical engineering at The Queen's College, Oxford. A sketch featuring Bean was performed at the Edinburgh Fringein the early 1980s. A similar character called Robert Box, played by Atkinson himself, appeared in the one-off 1979 ITV sitcom Canned Laughter, which also featured routines used in the feature film in 1997.
One of Bean's earliest appearances occurred at the "Just for Laughs" comedy festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1987. When programme co-ordinators were scheduling him into the festival programme, Atkinson insisted that he perform on the French-speaking bill rather than the English-speaking programme. Having no French dialogue in his act at all, programme co-ordinators could not understand why Atkinson wanted to perform on the French bill instead. As it turned out, Atkinson's act at the festival was a test platform for the Mr. Bean character, and Atkinson wanted to see how his character's physical comedy would fare on an international stage with a non-English speaking audience.
The character's name was not decided until after the first programme had been produced; a number of other vegetable-influenced names, such as "Mr. Cauliflower", were explored. Atkinson cited the earlier comedy character Monsieur Hulot, created by French comedian and director Jacques Tati, as an influence on the character. Stylistically, Mr. Bean is also very similar to early silent films, relying purely upon physical comedy, with Mr. Bean speaking very little dialogue (although like other live-action TV series of the time, it features a laugh track). This has allowed the series to be sold worldwide without any significant changes to dialogue. In November 2012, Atkinson told The Daily Telegraph of his intentions to retire the character, stating that "someone in their 50s being childlike becomes a little sad."