Rowan Atkinson compares cancel culture to 'medieval mob looking for someone to burn'

Rowan Atkinson in the No Man's Land garden, the Soldiers' Charity garden to mark the centenary of World War One, during the press day at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London.
Rowan Atkinson has compared cancel culture to an medieval mob. (PA)

Rowan Atkinson has compared cancel culture to a "medieval mob looking for someone to burn", admitting it fills him with fear.

The comedian and star of Blackadder, Mr Bean and Johnny English expressed his concern that social media and online algorithms are dividing society and turning people against one another.

Atkinson, 65, told the Radio Times: “The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society.

“It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.

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“It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.”

English actor Sir Rowan Atkinson attends 'Che Tempo Che Fa' tv show at Rai Milan Studios on October 7, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Andrea Diodato/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Rowan Atkinson has long campaigned for free speech. (Getty Images)

Last year the actor put his name to a letter opposing the Scottish government's Hate Crime Bill.

If the bill is passed by Scottish parliament it would provide for new “stirring up” of hatred offences that would apply to all characteristics. These offences currently only apply to racial hatred.

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Atkinson has previously spoken out in support of "free speech” and spent years campaigning against legislation that eventually became the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, making it an offence to incite religious hatred.

In 2012 the actor defended his "right to offend" when he made an address in parliament as part of the Defend Free Speech campaign.

Watch: 2020 saw the rise of Cancel Culture