Without a doubt, Rowan Atkinson’s crowning achievement to date is Mr.Bean. He may well have done better series before it, like the incomparable Blackadder – but Bean is what most people think of when they think of Rowan. In fact, if people see him, they will most likely say, “Look, it’s Mr.Bean!”, rather than use his real name.
Why this is, is because Rowan perfected the art of starring in a comedy which, unlike Blackadder, had little dialogue. Blackadder relied on sarcasm, wit, and stinging comments to draw laughter. Bean was little more than a mime on screen. He had to rely on other methods to express his emotions – mainly using comical facial expressions and body language.
Long before Bean, he was called a “big-nosed, rubber-faced b@stard” (a scene in Blackadder III), but it was truly in Bean that you saw this in full.
So why am I talking about Mr. Bean here anyway? Well, besides that fact that the original British series celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, it’s because while watching certain episodes, I tend to get a tingle or two. By now, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know what I’m on about when I say “tingle”.
The thing is, like I said, with the lack of dialogue, Rowan is forced to use other means of keeping your attention. In addition to the previously mentioned rubber-faced expressions, while committing some of his hilarious antics, he’ll often use sounds and careful motions to demonstrate his intent. Like the scene where he’s in the Church sitting next to the rather wary parishioner, and he wants to get a sweet out of his pocket, for example. Or perhaps in some scenes if Bean finds something interesting, he’ll gasp or do some other sort of mouth movement which doesn’t include speech.
People within the ASMR community have often said that watching somebody do something carefully or intricately will sometimes trigger an event for them. I think that Bean is probably one of the few examples I can think of when it comes to TV.
But I’m talking about the British series from the 90’s, mind you – not the Americanised adaptations that came after.