My Comedy Hero: Mock The Week's Milton Jones discusses Rowan Atkinson
Growing up I was inspired by people in sitcoms such as Ronnie Barker and Leonard Rossiter. But, the hero I’d pick would be Rowan Atkinson. I became aware of him when he used to do sketches on Not the Nine O’Clock News and it was clear that he was the star. Although he was doing different characters there was always a Rowan Atkinson angle on them and his was the line that the audience waited for. And as with all great people, even if his line wasn’t always the punchline, he managed to make each one funny. He has very good verbal and physical timing and it’s rare for that to come together.
Because he’s done things like Mr Bean and The Thin Blue Line that have been quite low-brow, he doesn’t really get the credit he deserves anymore. If you had to pick one it would be Blackaddder; he was doing one character but it varied through the ages and ended with the pathos of World War One where you thought, ‘Right, he can do a bit of that as well.’
I remember going to the West End to see his one-man show, and often there would be a ten-minute sketch with him saying four words and being totally mesmeric. I do think there is a bit of snobbery going on, with some of the choices he’s made like the Johnny English thing, but his work is very sophisticated and very few people can do what he does.
Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Thu 19 May; EICC, Edinburgh, Sun 22 May.