Birthplace: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England
Trained in electrical engineering at Oxford, he is known instead for his physical humor and verbal vitriol in British television comedies. His first role came in the sketch series Not the Nine O'Clock News (1980), which he parlayed into a starring role in the series of television appearances spoofing British history by following a single character, The Black Adder, and his descendants through time. The Black Adder became a cult hit in the States through PBS and A&E, but Atkinson failed to gain a foothold in the American comedy scene until the release of Bean (1997) featuring a character he had created in another British sitcom, Mr. Bean (1989). He is also remembered by American audiences for his role as the befuddled Father Gerald in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).