Mr Bean discovers silence is golden

He may be a mute oaf on television but in the boardroom Rowan Atkinson, alias Mr Bean, hatches the kind of money-making schemes of which Blackadder would be proud.

The comedian is one of a growing number of performers whose annual pay tops pounds 1m and whose pay rises rival those of the most obese of City fat cats.

The latest survey by the Labour Research Department into directors' pay shows that more and more singers, comedians and actors are paying themselves as directors through companies, enjoying rises of up to 180 per cent a year.

Atkinson, who gave himself a 17 per cent increase to pounds 1,341,750 through his company Hindmeck, has benefited enormously from the international success of Mr Bean. Although he made only 13 episodes, the programme has been shown in 82 countries, generating video sales of more than 2 million. His success means that last year he was paid more than Paul McCartney, even though the former Beatle gave himself a 180 per cent rise, to pounds 869,455, through his company MPL Communications. He and his fellow Beatle, George Harrison, and Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon, stand to make more millions from the three-part Anthology. As directors of Apple Corps, Ono and Harrison last year paid themselves pounds 2,692,250 each, a rise of 78 per cent on the previous year.

The biggest pop earner last year was Elton John, who paid himself pounds 10,417,942 through Happenstance/J.Bondi Ltd, with a 2 per cent pay rise.

Other artists managed to give themselves enormous pay packets while taking cuts in salary. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, of Really Useful/Escaway, took a cut of 65 per cent but still found himself on pounds 6,134,682; Phil Collins a reduction of 73 per cent but paid pounds 5,916,160; and Eric Clapton a drop of 56 per cent but paid pounds 5,880,330. The pay of Mark Knopfler slid by 3.6 per cent to pounds 2,755,000.

"Top artists have always earned huge amounts of money, so it should come as no surprise," said Steve Redmond, editor of Music Week. "In 1912, Florence Lawrence, the first film star, was earning $250 dollars a week, which was an awful lot. However, by 1919 Fatty Arbuckle was earning a guaranteed minimum of $1m.

"Directors' pay is an interesting way of seeing who is doing well - for example, Eric Clapton seemed to have faded away a few years ago, but then he had an enormous hit with Unplugged," said Mr Redmond.

The pay of senior executives at quoted companies already on more than pounds 500,000 a year has risen by an average 15.9 per cent compared with the previous year's 10.1 per cent, according to the union-funded research. The average outside the boardroom is about 3 per cent.

Of the 175 top directors found by Labour Research, 106 enjoyed increases of more than 10 per cent, while 20 saw their pay more than double.The highest rise was awarded to Sam Chisholm, chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting, whose 609 per cent increase took his pay to pounds 4,716,000.

Ian McCartney, Labour's employment spokesman, said shareholders were contacting the party to express their exasperation at the "huge" increases enjoyed by the top directors. "This has become the unacceptable face of corporate Britain," he said. "It's a question of boom in the boardroom and bust for the workforce."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing