'Friends' stole turkey-on-the-head gag from 'Mr. Bean', says Richard Curtis

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2 min read
Mr Bean (Credit: ITV)
Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean (ITV)

Among Friends’ most memorable scenes remains that time when Joey got the Thanksgiving turkey stuck on his head.

In the 1998 episode The One With All The Thanksgivings, Joey dons the bird in order to scare Chandler.

The ploy goes just about as well as you would imagine.

But now Richard Curtis – who it appears has been catching up with the series, which wound up in 2004 – has said it stole the gag from Mr. Bean.

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Curtis co-wrote the original TV show, which aired 15 episodes on ITV between 1990 and 1995, and starred co-creator Rowan Atkinson as the hapless buffoon.

The turkey scene appeared in Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean, from 1992 – pre-dating Joey's fowl run-in by some margin.

“I’m absolutely dazzled by the Friends thing. I only saw it the other day. I literally can’t believe what happened there. Bizarre,” says Curtis on Happy Birthday Mr Bean, a documentary that aired on Saturday night to celebrate 30 years of the character.

Friends (Credit: NBC)
Friends (NBC)

Atkinson is slightly more laidback about the theft, however.

“But in the end you can’t steal jokes. Jokes are there to be stolen – or to inspire,” he says.

The pair also discuss whether there could be a potential Bean comeback.

“Old Bean is what we’re now thinking of doing. He’s always had a kind of grumpy selfishness which might adapt well,” says Curtis.

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Atkinson adds: “I still like him, I still find him funny and think I can still perform him. Never say never.”

However, Atkinson's remarks differ slightly from others he made to the Radio Times last week.

“I don’t much enjoy playing him. The weight of responsibility is not pleasant. I find it stressful and exhausting, and I look forward to the end of it,” he said.

“I don’t actually like the process of making anything – with the possible exception of Blackadder, because the responsibility for making that series funny was on many shoulders, not just mine.”

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