Rowan Atkinson
Rowan Atkinson.png
Biographical information

January 6, 1955


Consett, County Durham, England

Career information



The Lion King

Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (born January 6, 1955) is an English comedian, screenwriter, and actor. He is most famous for his work on the satirical sketch comedy show, Not The Nine O'Clock News, and the sitcoms Blackadder and Mr. Bean.


Atkinson, the youngest of four brothers, was born in Consett, County Durham, England.[1] His parents were Eric Atkinson, a farmer and company director, and Ella May (née Bainbridge), who married on 29 June 1945.[1] His three older brothers were Paul, who died as an infant, Rodney, a Eurosceptic economist who narrowly lost the United Kingdom Independence Party leadership election in 2000, and Rupert.[2]

As a young adult, Atkinson started out to be an electrical engineer, and received his degrees from Newcastle and Oxford Universities before turning his attentions to performing. [3] In 1977, he attracted wide critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival and, the following year, he mounted his own revue at London's Hampstead Theater. [3] The following year, Atkinson started a radio show, "The Atkinson People", which consisted of a series of satirical interviews with fictional great men, who were played by Atkinson himself. The series was written by Atkinson and Richard Curtis, and produced by Griff Rhys Jones.[4] Later, Atkinson went on to become a founding member of the BBC's Not the Nine O'Clock News, which spawned four series, best-selling albums and books and earned the British Academy Award.[3]

In 1981, the comedian became the youngest performer to have a one-man show in London's West End, where his sold-out season at the Globe Theater earned him the Society of West End Theater's Award for Comedy Performance of the Year.[3] Two years later, he embarked with writer Richard Curtis on their situation tragedy, "Black Adder," for the BBC. .[3] Over the ensuing five years, the series' four seasons won three British Academy Awards, an International Emmy, three ACE Awards, etc. Atkinson was again named BBC Personality of the Year. [3]

In the 1990s, Atkinson began the silent comedy series, Mr. Bean, for ITV and HBO. It became the highest-rated comedy show on British television, and enjoyed success such as receiving several International Emmys, two Banff Awards, among others.[3] During production of The Lion King, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and Patrick Stewart were all considered for the role of Zazu, but the role was finally given to Atkinson after the animators watched some episodes of Mr. Bean.[5] Zazu's supervising animator, Ellen Woodbury, and her team of animators admitted drawing major inspiration from Atkinson's expressive rubbery-faced antics. [3] For some unknown reason, Atkinson did not return to voice Zazu in the later two films.

Personal Life

Atkinson first met Sunetra Sastry in the 1980s, who was working as a make-up artist with the BBC.[6] Sastry is of mixed descent, being the daughter of an Indian father and a British mother.[7] The couple married at the Russian Tea Room in New York City in 1990. They have two children and live in Oundle, Northamptonshire as well as Ipsden, Oxfordshire and Highbury, London.

Atkinson is also an avid car fan. On 4 August 2011, Atkinson was involved in a single car collision in his McLaren F1 on the A605 at Haddon, Cambridgeshire.[8] Atkinson reportedly lost control of the car, which crashed into a tree and then a lamppost before catching fire. Atkinson suffered only a minor injury to his shoulder.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Barratt, Nick. Family Detective – Rowan Atkinson. The Daily Telegraph.
  2. Foreign Correspondent – 22 July 1997: Interview with Rodney Atkinson, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 The Lion King: Film Notes.
  4. Pick of the Day. The Guardian.
  5. Th Lion King - Trivia.
  6. Profile: Beany Wonder, 10 June 2007, The Hindu
  7. MY DELICIOUS MRS BEAN; Shy Rowan was struck dumb on chaotic first date., 7 August 1997, The Mirror
  8. Update: TV star Rowan Atkinson in hospital following Cambridgeshire crash. EveningStar.
  9. Dunning, Craig (5 August 2011). Mr Bean and Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson in hospital after McLaren F1 supercar crash. Retrieved on August 5, 2011.
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