A British Mr Bean look-a-like has become an unlikely internet sensation across Asia with over 400m fans – after getting stranded in Wuhan during the coronavirus lockdown.
Nigel Dixon, 52, got stuck in the city earlier this year while visiting friends and started posting videos online on what life was like there.
He then began making short educational videos advising people how to live under lockdown – in the style of Mr Bean.
Nigel filmed videos three or four times a week dressed up as the Rowan Atkinson character where he offered advice on wearing face masks and staying indoors.
At one point he attracted 460m followers on Sina Weibo – the Chinese version of Twitter and had fans across Japan and Korea.
Nigel, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, said: “People had a lot of respect for me over there, there was a lot of interest in me.
“Their news channels started to refer to me as the most well-known Westerner in China.
“I can’t even tell you how amazing the support was that I had over in China. It was immense, the warmth and love that came to me.
“I had five to ten million followers online sending me support, wanting to make sure I was okay.
Nigel regularly appeared in character as a correspondent on China’s main TV news channel CCTV News keeping the rest of the country updated on the situation in Wuhan.
He finally made it home to the UK on May 29, having arrived in Wuhan on January 2 to visit friends.
At one point, Nigel was ranked as the number two topic on Sina Weibo – ranked above Donald Trump.
He said: “That was amazing. It was very surreal.
“My videos became a central role in educating people on what was happening in Wuhan, and how to stay safe.
“I also made personal videos for people as Mr Bean – I sent one to a little girl who had heart problems, and she said my video made her feel a lot better.
“It was a good distraction for me while I was out there. It gave me a sense of being, of purpose, and a sense of reward.”
Nigel, who has visited China for the past five or six years, previously performed as a Mr Bean lookalike.
He was even selected by Rowan Atkinson as the actor’s official double in Top Funny Comedian – a 2017 spin-off Mr Bean film, only released in China.
He has “mixed feelings” about finally being back in the UK – because of the difference in cultures and attitudes.
Nigel said: “I’m partly relieved to be home, but partly cautious. Here in the west we’ve reacted very differently to all this.
“We need to support one another through this, and focus on what we have in common, instead of our differences.”