With Man Vs Bee streaming on Netflix now, we joined Rowan Atkinson in a rather wonderful virtual press conference, hosted by Emma Cox, as he delved deeper into the making of the show, his new character Trevor Bingley, and all the work it took to create the new show, with its mini-episodes and entertaining concept.
If you’d like a little background, Man Vs Bee focuses around Atkinson’s new character, the loveable, but bumbling, dad Trevor Bingley, who lands a new job as a housesitter. His first job is to look after a luxury mansion that’s filled with priceless artwork, classic cars and a small called Cupcake (played by Pixel!) but when a bee lands on the scene, can Trevor keep everything under control, or will their raucous rivalry (and his obsession) just lead to increasingly disastrous consequences..? Well, you know…. you’ll have to watch to find out and see Rowan, co-starring with Jing Lusi, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Greg McHugh, India Fowler, Claudie Blakley, and Tom Basden.
In today’s virtual Press Conference, Rowan spoke of the huge process that went into designing Man Vs Bee, and it was fascinating to listen to comedy legend break down the new short and snappy Netflix series! This included Atkinson’s enlightenments as we delved into his new character, Trevor. What’s interesting with Rowan Atkinson is that you’d be underestimating his depth of character, even all these years later, and how much immersed personality building goes into bringing it all to life.
He’s clearly invested, as he discusses each purposeful nuance and the ‘fish out of water’ world we’ll come to learn of, and explore, with him. This included his own personal confusion of modern technology and gadgets, and how Trevor’s new world is enormously different to the one he’s throwing himself into, and beyond his usual comfort zone. In essence, Trevor is an obsessive type, and this bee will push him to his limits, as he can’t look beyond the ‘truth’ that it’s out to get him, even though it’s just a bee, and we all love the humble bumble bee, right?!
For me, it can be simple for people to dismiss the classic visual and physical comedy, but as Rowan discusses, Man Vs Bee took 3 years to create, produce, film and edit – and he participated in every part of it along the way, along with his co-writer Will Davies, and director David Kerr. He tells us that the team wanted to keep as much as they could based in the ‘possible’ and reality, to keep that human connection, even in the silliest of situations.
Man Vs Bee is a family friendly outing, pure escapism in an era where we need good natured fun. They discuss whether this style of visual comedy is specifically British, as of course Mr Bean was such a huge part of Atkinson’s comedy history, and while he doesn’t necessarily think it’s specifically UK-related, he does comment on how much he enjoys it, even if the filming isn’t always as fun as the creation – but it’s this focus and attention that’s rarer these days, so it’s more than welcome in my book.
Rowan also mentioned the dichotomy of the bee itself, instead of a wasp for example, as we like them and we’ll like Trevor but throughout the developing chaos, who will we actually side with? It’s was also interesting to hear more from the man himself about his work ethic, his serious self-concerns over how he could have done something differently, or better, but that’s the classic creative qualm in my world as well.
What was particularly refreshing was listening to an unedited, honest insight from one of the finest comedy actors of the last 40 years, and how seriously this show was produced. Even if he’s clearly worried about making it better, it’s just as crucial for him to care about it, and for others to as well – especially for all the family, and that’s a lovely way to dive in. He also gave a quick mention, prompted by a question, of his pride for The Blackadder to this day, and his place within that ensemble, and I’m sure we can all agree with that.
Man Vs Bee isn’t just a casual comedy effort, but you can binge it because it’s separate episodes developing into a film, and with 9 individual 10-20 minutes episodes, you’ll be able to rewatch and discover new moments as much as you like, enjoy, and stream it now!