The Greatest

100 Greatest TV Characters (5 May 2001)

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A two-part TV special which counts down Britain's favourite television characters, as voted for by the British public.

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A two-part TV special which counts down Britain's favourite television characters, as voted for by the British public.

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5 May 2001 (UK)  »

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Where did Mr Bean go?
29 July 2002 | by (Belfast, Northern Ireland) – See all my reviews

I loved the idea of this and have always found these "100 Greatest" shows very interesting. But I thought it was disgraceful when the countdown finished without a trace of Rowan Atkinson's OTHER immortal and internationally successful creation, Mr Bean, WHO WAS ON THE LIST OF THE 100 FINALISTS. (The superb Edmund Blackadder came a triumphant 3rd, after John Cleese's wonderful Basil Fawlty and David Jason's brilliant Del Boy.)

I checked the Channel 4 website for the final list, and there found that Mr Bean HAD actually been voted into 15th place (or thereabouts), but yet the television broadcast had somewhere along the line added a character or done something similar which resulted in Harry Enfield's Kevin the Teenager or Rik Mayall's Rick from "The Young Ones" (I can't remember offhand) occupying that position.

It's absolutely ridiculous the amount of snobbery shown in Britain towards one of its best-loved comedy exports -- just because "Mr Bean" is basically innocent, old-fashioned visual humour, it's frowned upon. People seem to think that if something isn't "wordy", or doesn't involve much verbal humour then it's therefore neither subtle nor intelligent, or is too "old-fashioned" to be funny, and is not worth bothering about. I'll tell you "Mr Bean" is more erudite, original, subtle and inventive than most of the puerile, mindless, "one-joke-and-that's-sex-and-lewdness-with-all-else-that-appertains-to-sex-a nd-lewdness" dribble that's broadcast today.

Even the smash-hit movie (smash-hit therefore making it ripe for a critical mauling, further displaying the difference between the media's perception and that of the public), "Bean -- The Ultimate Disaster Movie", was snubbed and haughtily sneered at, and was denied even a single BAFTA nomination despite being the most successful British film of that year, beating "The Full Monty" and coming second just behind "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (which Atkinson and Richard Curtis were also involved in) in the list of all-time biggest British blockbusters. (Currently I believe it's still in the Top 5 most financially successful British films of all time.)

Admittedly, a more original concept could have been chosen than the typical "British--American stars" theme employed to ensure success in the USA, but what Curtis, Mel Smith and especially Atkinson did with what they had was incredible. I originally watched "Bean" with only the knowledge that it had been a big hit overseas and in the UK, and no other knowledge as to the critical reception or the controversy surrounding the film or anything of that nature. Unite that with the fact that a few years previously I had "grown up" and lost interest in Mr Bean, and was watching this with only a mild interest, not expecting much.

(I had only heard about and was subsequently impressed with the news that "Bean" had been a huge and unsuspected hit in Canada and the US, beating the other predicted summer blockbusters of that year, so, admittedly, my admiration for Mr Bean had recovered somewhat, though not vastly.)

Of course, the film blew me away, it was so (completely unexpectedly) gut-bustingly hysterical, I wondered what all the negative fuss was about (after discovering that it existed -- by the bucketful).

Anyways, I'll just finish my little rant here -- I think I can be justifiably guilty of righteous anger. Why nominate Mr Bean for the final shortlist to be voted on and then remove him completely when he makes it into 15th place? I just can't understand it. The programme-makers and Channel 4 ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

At least I can wallow in the fact that Rowan Atkinson was the only performer to have two of his characters included in the Top 100 and to have BOTH of them placed in the Top 15. This demonstrates that Atkinson, genius that he is, has succeeded in becoming one of the most popular comedians in Britain, because he's created at least two characters that people do not MERELY LIKE, but are PASSIONATE about. It appears to be the very young and the very old who go for "Mr Bean", whereas the hip, post-watershed "Blackadder" appeals to, on average, those between 15 and 50. "Mr Bean" appeals strongly to working- and upper-class audiences, and "Blackadder" appeals mostly to the middle-classes.

So we can see why the media don't like Mr Bean -- but, Channel 4, you pile of gutless wonders, that's still no reason to do what you did.

(Just thought I'd get that in twice. For emphasis. You probably won't read it but I don't care. I've had my say.)

(OK I'll go now.)


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