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Bond spoof gets première

Rowan Atkinson's spy spoof film "Johnny English" was given its world première in London on Sunday 6th April.
Fans turned up at Leicester Square to see the Mr Bean and Blackadder comic and the film's other stars, Natalie Imbruglia and John Malkovich.

Atkinson, a racing driver in real life, drove up the red carpet in an Aston Martin Vanquish that is seen in the film.

Atkinson's character, Johnny English, is a bungling secret agent who was first seen in Barclaycard television commercials in the UK more than a decade ago.

Australian actress and singer Imbruglia drew most attention in a floor-length scarlet Valentino dress.

Playing English's sidekick and love interest, it is her first major acting role since starring in TV soap Neighbours in the early 1990s.

"Clearly Mr Bean couldn't expect to get that sort of love interest but as Johnny English it's a different story," Atkinson told reporters.

The film, which will be released in the UK on Friday, was directed by Sliding Doors film-maker Peter Howitt.

Malkovich appears as French mogul Pascal Sauvage, who hatches a plot to steal the crown jewels but comes up against English.

Atkinson first appeared as the accident-prone spy in a series of adverts between 1992 and 1997.

One of the UK's most successful comedians, he has also appeared in movies including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Scooby-Doo and Rat Race.

But he is best-known around the world for his Mr Bean character, culminating in a movie that took more than $230m (£150m) around the world in 1997.

Among the other celebrities at the première were TV presenter Angus Deayton and Cold Feet actor John Thomson, who turned up with partner Sam Sharp. Also there was former Hear'Say singer Myleene Klass.

(BBC 09/04/2003)