The title character, played by Rowan Atkinson, is a childish and selfish buffoon who brings various unusual schemes and contrivances to everyday tasks. He lives alone in his small flat in Highbury, North London, and is almost always seen in his trademark tweed jacket and a skinny red tie. He also usually wears a digital calculator watch (which he does not like to lose). Mr. Bean rarely speaks, and when he does, it is generally only a few mumbled words which are in a comically low-pitched voice. His first name (he names himself "Bean" to others) and profession, if any, are never mentioned. In the first film adaptation, "Mr." appears on his passport in the "first name" field, and he is shown employed as a guard at London's National Gallery. In Mr. Bean's Holiday, however, his name is listed on his passport as "Rowan".
Mr. Bean often seems unaware of basic aspects of the way the world works, and the programme usually features his attempts at what would normally be considered simple tasks, such as going swimming, using a television set, redecorating or going to church. The humour largely comes from his original (and often absurd) solutions to problems and his total disregard for others when solving them, his pettiness, and occasional malevolence.
At the beginning of episode two onwards, Mr. Bean falls from the sky in a beam of light, accompanied by a choir singing Ecce homo qui est faba ("Behold the man who is a bean"). These opening sequences were initially in black and white in episodes 2 and 3, and were intended by the producers to show his status as an "ordinary man cast into the spotlight". However, later episodes showed Mr. Bean dropping from the night sky in a deserted London street, against the backdrop of St. Paul's Cathedral suggesting Bean is an alien. At the end of episodes 3 and 6 he is also shown being sucked right back up into the sky in the respective background scenes (black scene in episode 3 and street scene in episode 6). Atkinson himself has acknowledged that Bean "has a slightly alien aspect to him"; in the animated series, he was actually shown to be an extraterrestrial.