The Chinese government is reportedly using a Mr. Bean impersonator to apparently spread positive propaganda about the government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Nigel Dixon, who plays the character "Mr. Pea" is said to be trapped in the city of Wuhan, where the virus first originated. The 53 year-old was said to be in the city in January 'for work' and decided to stay after the outbreak.
In videos that have been released by the Xinhua News Agency, a state-run media agency, Dixon is seen calling the government 'brave' for quarantining the city and also lamenting criticism of China.
In one video he says:
Once people were waiting for hospital beds, now beds are waiting for people. It sickens me to hear of other countries blaming China, but for what?
We are now hearing of cases where people around the world have contracted their virus with no obvious connections to China.
In the above video, which was published on 1 March by Xinuha he says:
The safety measures that are taken here on a daily basis by the population of Wuhan are nothing short of incredible.
It is currently down to every person to adopt a high level of self-responsibility, and the strength of Wuhan people (sic) to not just think of themselves, but to think of the wider community exceeds any measurable scale.
Dixon has amassed more than 6 million followers on Douyin, which is the Chinese-government-monitored version of TikTok. In one video he promotes wearing a mask and washing hands.
If you are wondering why the Chinese government would be so keen to use a Mr. Bean impersonator for their own purposes it's because, believe it or not, Mr. Bean is a huge deal in China.
In fact, Rowan Atkinson who so famously played the character reprised his role for a movie in 2017 that was only released in China.
On a more serious point, China has reported more than 80,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 3000 deaths, although there have been recent reports of the spread slowing down in the country.