Back to Africa Check

Social media keeps killing Rowan Atkinson – but he’s still not dead

English comedian Rowan Atkinson has died, claims a graphic circulating on Facebook in South Africa in May 2021.

“Rest in peace,” it reads, over a photo of Atkinson. “Rowan Sebastian ‘Mr Bean’ Atkinson, Born: January 6 1955, Died: May 29 2021”.

Atkinson was born on 6 January 1955, in England. One of his most famous roles is as the inept Mr Bean, in the so-named TV series and two following movies, Bean and Mr Bean’s Holiday.

But did he really die on May 29 2021? We checked.

Atkinson_False

‘Dead’ on social media since 2012

Rumours of Atkinson’s death have been doing the rounds on social media for years, appearing in 2012, 2013, 2018 and 2021.

They have even been used in a video that, when opened and its prompts followed, spreads a computer virus

But the rumours are false. Fact-checkers at AFP reached out to PBJ Management, Atkinson’s talent agency, who dismissed the claim.

“I can confirm he’s alive,” a spokesperson for PBJ Management told AFP on 1 June 2021 – three days after the graphic says he died.

And there have been no credible media reports of his death. Given Atkinson’s fame, his death would have received wide media coverage.

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters