Born in 1955, the great British comic genius that is Rowan Sebastian Atkinson took to the acting field when he joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the Experimental Theatre Club whilst studying at the University. It was the comedy genre in which Rowan Atkinson most felt comfortable with and instead of graduating in his chosen discipline, he joined forces with his friend Angus Deayton where both embarked on a comedy tour which became popular and much talked about.
The success of this tour led ITV to offer Rowan a TV series of his own which he remarkably turned down. Instead he decided to collaborate with his university friend, Richard Curtis and start writing a comedy sketch show which was to become 'Not the Nine O'Clock News'. Rowan was one of the main writers on the show as well as its main star and he featured alongside Pamela Stephenson, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith.
As well as Rowan's career taking off after this point, the other co-stars also became eventual household names after the huge popularity and success of 'Not the Nine O'Clock News'. The show ran from 1979 to 1982 and won numerous awards, including an International Emmy and British Academy Award for the 'Best Light Entertainment programme of 1980'. Rowan personally enjoyed success with the show and was named 'BBC Personality of the Year' in 1980 for his performance on the show.
After this success, Atkinson again took to writing with his friend Richard Curtis and this spawned what was to become a huge success in one of the best loved and one of the most popular British comedy series of all time in the birth of the 'Blackadder' series. However the First Blackadder series was not a huge success or very popular and had mixed reviews.
Due to this, the BBC was not keen to commission a second Blackadder series without some major changes and cost cutting to the show. Atkinson himself was not keen to write on the second series and comedian Ben Elton was chosen to replace him.
With the advent of more jokes and a change in character emphasis, where 'Baldrick' became the stupid fool and Blackadder's sidekick and Edmund Blackadder becoming the cunning sycophant, the second series enjoyed much greater appeal and popularity and gave rise to two further series, these being 'Blackadder the Third' and 'Blackadder Goes Forth'.
At this point, Rowan Atkinson was a huge comedy star but it was with his next project that he would be catapaulted to worldwide fame in the form of the hapless and bumbling figure of 'Mr Bean' which he co-wrote with his long-time friend, Richard Curtis.
The show was hugely popular in the UK and abroad and gave rise to several more TV specials and even a film titled 'Bean' which was released in 1997. A second movie was released in 2007 entitled Mr. Bean's Holiday. Atkinson starred in some film roles around this time too, including the box office hit 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' which also featured Hugh Grant.
That same year he was featured in Disney's The Lion King as the voice of Zazu the Red-billed Hornbill. Atkinson continued to appear in supporting roles in successful comedies, including Rat Race (2001), Scooby-Doo (2002), and Love Actually (2003) and the James Bond spoof film 'Johnny English'. Atkinson later returned to the series format as a by-the-book police commander in "The Thin Blue Line" (BBC, 1996-98).
Rowan Atkinson has been listed in a poll in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest actors in British Comedy and amongst the top 50 comedy actors ever in a 2005 poll of fellow comedians. However he was once quoted in a paper as saying - "People think because I can make them laugh on the stage, I'll be able to make them laugh in person. That isn't the case at all. I am essentially a rather quiet, dull person who just happens to be a performer."