At the age of 62 and nearly 30 years after his largely silent character Mr Bean brought him global fame, Rowan Atkinson has a freshly revamped career and is about to become a father again.
On Sunday, the British comedian’s actress girlfriend Louise Ford, 33, publicly debuted her prominent baby bump when she stepped out to run shopping errands in North London.
It was reportedly confirmed just the day before that she is expecting her first baby with Atkinson, although a spokesman for the star would not comment on reports.
“Rowan and Louise are over the moon and can’t wait for their new arrival,” a source told The Sunday People.
“It’s a very happy time for them both.”
The Blackadder star will know what to expect: he already has two grown-up children, 23-year-old son Ben and 21-year-old daughter Lily from his 25-year marriage to former BBC makeup artist Sunetra Sastry, 55.
The long-time couple split in 2013 and Sastry later divorced Atkinson, citing his “unreasonable behaviour”.
Atkinson met Ford, who plays Kate Middleton in UK drama The Windsors, when they appeared in the West End comedy Quartermaine’s Terms in 2013.
A year after co-starring on the London stage, they “struck up a romance”, according to The Guardian, and she moved into his multi-million dollar North London cottage in January 2016.
According to The Sun, the domestic move came “just weeks” after Atkinson’s divorce was made final.
“Rowan and Louise are both incredibly private people,” said a source.
“But this shows they are obviously serious about their relationship.”
Just as his family is expanding, Atkinson’s professional star is also on the up and up again, after a Hollywood hiatus of five years, during which he dabbled in television, theatre and even Chinese cinema.
At its peak, his role in Mr Bean attracted almost 19 million viewers and helped Atkinson – the bumbling vicar in Four Weddings and a Funeral –amass a fortune estimated at $120 million.
First seen in 1990, the beloved, frustrating character featured in three movies plus the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.
Atkinson’s last Western cinema outing came in 2011, when he starred in Johnny English Reborn.
However, in March this year he reprised his Mr Bean role in a cameo for the film Top Funny Comedian, which was released only in China.
He also tried his hand at a dramatic role, playing French detective Jules Maigret in British miniseries Maigret’s Night at the Crossroads in April this year.
He said of the more serious departure: “When I told my friend Richard Curtis that I was going to do Maigret, he said to me, ‘You do realise you’re going to play a character closer to yourself than you ever played before’ – and he’s right. I’ve never wanted to play myself. I’ve preferred to play people far removed from me because it feels easier!”
In May, it was announced Atkinson will return in 2018 as hapless spy Johnny English in Johnny English 3, the third movie in the spoof series which debuted in 2003.
Despite news of his impending baby joy, it hasn’t been all unbridled happiness for Atkinson in recent months.
Ford’s outing as soon-to-be mother comes a month after reports that daughter Lily, a burlesque dancer, dropped her father’s famous surname in favour of her mother’s.