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Slapstick master Rowan Atkinson is back in action in new Netflix show

The evil Rowan Atkinson is about to bring a powerful metal cutter to the door of the Jaguar E-Type. You might think that is sacrilege for a man so passionate about classic cars, but for a slapstick master playing a man to his limits, this is a chore.

Rowan plays Trevor, a man hired by an agency to babysit wealthy strangers Christian and Nina, in ten-part, hilarious and intense ten-minute episodes, in Netflix’s new comedy Man vs. the Bee. But the presence of a bee in a luxurious house drives him more and more crazy, and after a series of disastrous attempts to silence her, ending in absolute carnage, the bee flies away to his beloved Jug Christian.

And then there is the power tool. “What starts as a minor inconvenience to Trevor becomes an obsession leading to large-scale destruction,” Rowan explains.

“The bee was the catalyst for Trevor to destroy the house and the car in many ways.”

Rowan Atkinson (pictured) stars in the new comedy Man vs. the Bee, a ten-part series on Netflix, as Trevor, a man hired to babysit wealthy strangers.

Rowan Atkinson (pictured) stars in the new comedy Man vs. the Bee, a ten-part series on Netflix, as Trevor, a man hired to babysit wealthy strangers.

Trevor is the first new character on the Rowan sitcom since pompous Inspector Raymond Fowler in the BBC comedy The Thin Blue Line nearly 30 years ago, though it’s the creation that preceded him that draws the most comparison. The hapless buffoon Mr. Bean often finds himself in the farcical situations that Trevor faces, and Rowan admits there are similarities between the two.

“If I play the character without any words – and Trevor says almost nothing – you will see something that resembles Mr. Bean,” he says. “There will be something that will remind you of him, and there are aspects of the story that are reminiscent of the hardships that Mr. Bean will face.

“But Trevor is a more versatile character than Mr. Bean, who was a two-dimensional, self-serving anarchist. Trevor is more likeable, so hopefully people will cheer for him as he gets into more and more trouble.”

And therein lies the most interesting part – we are stunned to watch as a magnificent house and a prestigious car are destroyed by a man who is supposed to look after them while he fights a losing battle of wits with a bee. To heighten the sense of destruction, Netflix went to town when it came to creating home interiors at Bovingdon Studios in Hertfordshire.

Trevor is the first new character on the Rowan sitcom since pompous Inspector Raymond Fowler in the BBC comedy The Thin Blue Line nearly 30 years ago.

Trevor is the first new character on the Rowan sitcom since pompous Inspector Raymond Fowler in the BBC comedy The Thin Blue Line nearly 30 years ago.

Bedrooms, a spacious living room with huge windows, a state-of-the-art kitchen and library are adorned with exquisite art created especially for the show by artist Humphrey Bangham, and the furniture is elegant and expensive.

Trevor’s Attacks E-Type Jag was actually a replacement for a more expensive model, the first E-Type Jag ever released in 1960. Shooting is over, he bought it!

“He loved it, he even wanted the hole in the door to stay the way it is,” says executive producer Chris Clark. “He thinks that’s what makes the car special.”

What starts as a minor inconvenience becomes an obsession that drives large-scale destruction.

The bee that we see on the screen is also the bee’s knees. It was computer generated and tiny bee models were used on set to give Rowan an idea of ​​where the CG bee is in relation to his character.

“A bee model was put on the end of the rod so that Rowan moved correctly in relation to Trevor’s nemesis,” Chris explains.

Shooting the show wasn’t much fun for Rowan, but the 67-year-old former Blackadder star rarely enjoys it either. “If you look at a TV project like a sandwich, then I like bread, not meat in the middle,” he admits.

“I love the rehearsal period, I love working on the script and I love post-production. I enjoy the opportunity to be involved in sound mixing and editing.

“In my opinion, the filming part is terrible, but that’s what you have to do to tell the story. The irony is that I have to be good at this part.

Rowan admits he doesn't enjoy filming due to the frustrating delays due to Covid and the physical demands of playing someone chasing a bee.

Rowan admits he doesn’t enjoy filming due to the frustrating delays due to Covid and the physical demands of playing someone chasing a bee.

“But I’m playing a special character, so there’s pressure on me to make the show work. Along with this comes a lot of stress, which is not very pleasant.

“Whatever I do, I always think that I can do it better. I felt it with every role I played, except Blackadder, because it was a shared responsibility, so I felt like I was carrying that burden with others.”

Add to that the frustrating delays due to Covid and the physical demands of someone who has to crawl on hands and knees and jump around in pursuit of a bee, and it’s no wonder Rowan isn’t thrilled about a second series.

“I don’t see it happening now,” he sighs. “But after the show I need a decompression and things change over time, so never say never!”

  • Man vs. the Bee is available on Netflix from Friday.

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