Rowan Atkinson has criticised the "long-lasting cynicism" towards comedy within the arts world.

The Blackadder star said there was a belief that actors playing comic roles were "farting about for money", while serious parts were considered "something of meaning".

Atkinson, who is starring as French detective Maigret in a new ITV drama, said he did not want people to think he was playing the role "to achieve some kind of respectability".

He told the Radio Times: "It's quite weird the way that the arts community still has a long-lasting cynicism over the artistic value of comedy.


"There's the thinking it's just farting about for money, whereas as soon as you play a serious role, you're doing something of meaning. It's as if they think an art is something nobody laughs at and nobody makes any money out of, which is an attitude that I would dispute.

"When you play a serious role - as far as I'm concerned - I'm using exactly the same skills as playing something more obviously comic. It's slightly different muscles, but the same skillset."

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Atkinson, 61, also insisted he will never retire his classic comedy creation, Mr Bean, following rumours he was considering ruling out a return in the future.

He told the magazine: "I would never finally wave goodbye to any character - I feel as though I could still play him."