Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

ON THE SMALL SCREEN MAIGRET - MAN OF MYSTERY; Rowan Atkinson Is Back as Supersleuth Maigret. MARION MCMULLEN Follows the Clues to Find out How the Blackadder and Mr Bean Star Is Now Enjoying a Life of Crime

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

ON THE SMALL SCREEN MAIGRET - MAN OF MYSTERY; Rowan Atkinson Is Back as Supersleuth Maigret. MARION MCMULLEN Follows the Clues to Find out How the Blackadder and Mr Bean Star Is Now Enjoying a Life of Crime

Article excerpt

What was a major turning point in your career? WHEN I was starting out I did a half hour pilot for ITV, for London Weekend Television, which was me playing three different characters. It was what you might call The Rowan Atkinson Show. I had just done that when I was offered a part in the sketch show Not The Nine O'Clock News that was happening at the BBC.

What was then referred to as "the other side". I remember having to make a decision - whether to do my own show at the very tender age of 24 or whether to go in with a team of people, Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones and everyone at the BBC.

I spoke to John Howard Davies, the head of comedy for the BBC at the time, who became a good friend and actually produced the first six Mr Bean episodes when we eventually did them for ITV. 'Follow your instinct' was his only advice. And my instinct was to play safe and go with the team of people.

How do you relax away from acting? CARS have always been my thing. Motor cars and motor racing are my hobbies and interest and they remain so to this day. I'm glad I've always had that as an interest because it is pleasingly distracting and quite different to the business we call show.

You up character longer It is quite a different mental and physical activity. And of, course, quite often I've been able to incorporate the interest in shows. Mr Bean's car antics and what have you and the Johnny English car antics.

What was the reaction to the first Maigret films? I TEND not to read reviews.

You get a vibe from what people say to you in shops and things, or what people don't say to you, and the vibe seemed to be generally positive. So that's good.

Do you learn more about Maigret all the time? YES, you do and you can't really put your finger on what you're learning. You're just settling into it.

The old cliche is finding your feet, finding the road, rather than meandering off into the undergrowth. It's almost the muddiness of the character which brings the clarity. You don't want a character who is just the same all the time. It's a matter of exploring how he is in this kind of situation, how he is in that kind of situation? …

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