Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis accuse Friends of stealing their Mr Bean joke

‘I literally can’t believe what happened there’

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 11 January 2021 10:22 GMT
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Friends: Monica wears turkey on her head in 'The One With All the Thanksgivings'

Rowan Atkinson has accused Friends of stealing  a joke from his Mr Bean sitcom.

The comedy actor made the claims in a new ITV series honouring his comedy character for his 30th anniversary.

In the show, titled Happy Birthday Mr Bean, Atkinson remembered a 1992 scene from his comedy show in which the character is seen running around with a turkey on his head.

Six years later, US sitcom Friends directly emulated this joke for its 1996 episode “The One With All The Thanksgivings”.

It shows Joey (Matt LeBlanc) frantically running around with a turkey stuck on his head. 

Monica (Courteney Cox) is also shown wearing the turkey head later in the episode.

“When we made the Bean movie in 1996 we decided to plagiarise ourselves and use the turkey on the head joke again,” Atkinson said, adding: "Also shooting in the 1990s was Friends – and they stole the joke.”

Atkinson said that, due to reusing the joke for Mr Bean’s big screen adventure, many people then assumed it was the opposite way around and that he had stolen the joke from Friends.

Mr Bean used the turkey gag six years before ‘Friends’

Also speaking on the documentary was Atkinson’s collaborator Richard Curtis, who wrote the turkey gag.  

“I’m absolutely dazzled by the Friends thing," he said. "I only saw it the other day. I literally can’t believe what happened there. Bizarre.”

Atkinson added: “In the end, you can’t steal jokes. But jokes are there to be stolen, or to inspire. Inspire others.”

Atkinson recently fuelled hopes for new Blackadder episodes.

Find our review of Happy Birthday Mr Bean here.

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