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The disaster that really worries Mr Bean's brother

Foreign adventures are no laughing matter for a less celebrated Atkinson
One is Britain's highest paid comic actor whose most successful and lucrative character is the inept Mr Bean. The other is known for his full-throated assaults on the European Union and was an adviser to the late Sir James Goldsmith.

The comic Rowan Atkinson seems worlds apart from his brother Rodney. As cinema goers roll around in the aisles watching Bean: The Ultimate Disaster, released today, Mr Bean's serious big brother will be at home in Stocksfield, Northumberland, plotting his next way to "stop the EU rot and international conspiracy to destroy the nation".

But there is no mistaking that they are brothers. Although moustachioed, Rodney Atkinson has that same pliable rubberface and both can be deadly serious.

The reclusive comic said: "Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing in showbusiness. I'm just not the type. It's as though I wandered in accidentally and there's no way out.

"Half of me is shy, even dull. I can't perform at parties. People who meet me for the first time leave thinking: `What a miserable git'."

Rodney, Rowan and their older brother Rupert were brought up in Consett and went to school with the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at Durham Choristers. Whilst Rowan performed in the school plays, Rodney buried his head in politics. At the last General Election he stood as the Referendum Party candidate in the Labour stronghold of Durham North West. He polled 5.12 per cent of the votes.

The 48-year-old has written several books condemning the EU. His latest - Europe's Full Circle - has sold more than 3,000 copies in the last six months. Its cover replaces one of the stars on the EU flag with the Nazi swastika.

"The evidence which links the Hitler regime with today's EU is dynamite," said Mr Atkinson. "What the Nazis said and planned before, during and after the war is now seen in today's German state and the power of the EU.

"The Nazis designed it and the so-called democratic Germans have forced it on the once free peoples of Western Europe."

Back in 1993 Black Adder's brother and Guinness Book of Records editor Norris McWhirter accused the then Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, of treason for signing the Maastricht treaty.

"My grandfather fought in the First World War and my father in the Second - we regard this as a third European war," said Rodney. A fan of his brother's work, Mr Atkinson is unmarried and lives at home with his elderly mother, Ella.

"I'm very proud of Rowan. Mr Bean is very funny. He's an amalgamation of many people Rowan has seen and met, even the odd schoolmaster is in there," he said.