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While politicians agonise over the size of the Government’s debt, one of the most expensive publicly funded projects in recent years is quietly getting under way.

Now please press 6 for phone fury

"HELLO, you're through to Bunhill. If you have a touch-tone keypad please press '1' after the tone ... Thank you for calling Bunhill; please press '2' for a schedule of my engagements today ... Please press '3' for details of the full range of services provided by Bunhill ... Please press '4' if you'd like to know the capital of Peru ... Hello, you're through to Bunhill ..." (repeat ad infinitum).

Word of Mouth

Shake-up at Kingston

Boxing: Holyfield the giant for all Bean's talk

Bob Mee reports on a world title fight with the look of a mismatch

Comedy: EXTRA

While his erstwhile double-act partner, Henry Naylor, swans around the world - no doubt making full use of the credit card he advertises so enthusiastically with Rowan Atkinson - Andy Parsons embarks on his first solo show. He will endeavour to take the audience through The Seven Levels of Sitting in a Slightly Uncomfortable Seat, so they end up "breathless, uplifted and as legally high as possible".

Week in the arts

MR BEAN, rubbery-limbed and accident prone, is a lovable sort of chap. He also says very little. Perhaps that comes from studying the outbursts of his alter ego, Rowan Atkinson. The latter has taken a snipe at Bafta in advance of next month's awards, because the British Academy had failed to nominate the Bean film. And as with all notable comedians, it's the way he tells 'em.

In the News: Rowan Atkinson - The recluse who engineered his way to stardom

BACK in his student days, Rowan Atkinson wanted to be an electrical engineer. It is an image that is hard to match with the rubber-faced comedian whose alter-ego, Mr Bean, is one of the best-known comic creations on British television, writes Kate Watson-Smyth.

Rugby Union: The serious side of Blackadder

The captain of the team they call the second best in the world has one ambition - to play for the best team; David Llewellyn talks to the leader of the first-rate All Black Second XV

Mr Bean takes America by storm

It would be best not to talk to Rowan Atkinson about the swathe of British art house movies like Trainspotting and The Full Monty that have triumphed at the American box-office in the last two years. He probably doesn't care.

CINEMA: A half-baked Bean who should have stayed in Britain

Mr Bean is the world's most popular in-flight entertainment, and understandably so. Half-asleep between bouts of air-sickness is undoubtedly the best way to watch it. But now Rowan Atkinson has brought his creepy TV character to the big screen, his audience no longer has the option of taking off the headphones and reading a book instead.

The disaster that really worries Mr Bean's brother

Foreign adventures are no laughing matter for a less celebrated Atkinson

Mr Magoo with malice

The puerile Mr Bean has made it from TV to the big screen, from London to Los Angeles. But the idiot's-eye outlook he offers remains the same

Mr Bean turns the handle of money-making machine

The pathetic comic character has a serious side, writes Chris Blackhurst

Mr Bean goes to Hollywood

Rowan Atkinson's new film, The Ultimate Disaster Movie, starring his alter ego, the gormless Mr Bean (pictured), has already taken Australia, New Zealand and Holland by storm and looks set to do the same in the United Kingdom.

A HEADY COMBINATION

Comedian MEL SMITH talks with James Rampton

Four weddings and a sequel

Hugh Grant to play himself again in a film called Notting Hill
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