ROWAN Atkinson has hinted that his days of playing the much-loved character Mr Bean could be nearing an end as he turns his sights to more serious stage roles.

The 57-year-old actor made the suggestion in an interview with The Daily Telegraph as he prepares for his first straight role in the West End, appearing in Richard Eyre’s revival of Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray.

Atkinson said his comedy creation Mr Bean has been a global success, but that playing childlike roles as a middle-aged actor could be perceived as “a little sad”. He told the paper: “The stuff that has been most commercially successful for me - basically quite physical, quite childish - I increasingly feel I’m going to do a lot less of. I also think someone in their 50s being childlike becomes a little sad. You’ve got to be careful.” Quartermaine’s Terms runs at the Theatre Royal Brighton from January 8-12, and the Theatre Royal Bath from Jan 14-19.–TG