Paddington Bear was the brainchild of Michael Bond, who created the little brown bear from darkest Peru way back in the late 1950’s. The idea for the character came from a toy teddy bear that Michael Bond had bought for his wife on Christmas Eve 1956, because he saw it sat all alone on the shop shelf and felt sorry for it. Since they lived closed to Paddington railway station in London, he named the bear Paddington.
Paddington first appeared to the public in 1958 with the book “A Bear called Paddington”, with the Brown family finding him sat alone at Paddington station with a label saying “Please look after this bear“. However, this post is primarily concerned with the TV series made during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, which is how I best remember Paddington.
The show had a unique look, with Paddington being a stop motion animated puppet, dressed in a blue duffel coat with a massive black hat perched on his head. All the background sets were very plain though, being two dimensional white cardboard cutouts, which meant that Paddington was always clearly visible. The human characters were also just two dimensional animated cutouts, though they were eventually allowed a splash of colour as well. I say eventually, as I’m sure they were originally black and white like the backgrounds, but this may be my memory failing me, as I’ve not been able to find any evidence of this!
Each charming episode was delightfully slow paced, with Paddington usually getting into a spot of bother because he misunderstood something that somebody said or did. One of the Brown clan would then normally have to come and sort things out and escort Paddington back home. Probably the most famous sequence from the TV show is when Paddington re-enacts the famous “Singin’ in the Rain” scene as danced by Gene Kelly, with full backing music and splashing in puddles that looked like they were made from aluminium cooking foil.
Paddington has recently made a return to the small screen with a TV advert for Marmite. As most people will know, Paddington’s favourite food was marmalade sandwiches, but in this commercial he tries Marmite for the first time. Marmite has a reputation as being something you either love or detest, and Paddington likes it. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the pigeon that he feeds a little bit of his sandwich to.