1 9 7 5 – 1 9 7 6 (UK)
1 9 8 6 – 1 9 8 7 (UK)
56 x 5 minute episodes
3 x specials
BBC cameraman Michael Bond bought a toy bear from a London’s Selfridges store for his wife and living near Paddington railway station at the time, they named him Paddington.
Bond began to write stories about the creature and the first of many Paddington books was published in 1958.
Bond received several approaches to turn Paddington into a TV star, with the FilmFair company and animator Ivor Wood finally producing a series in 1975.
An innovative technique placed a loveable 3D bear puppet in a 3D part-drawn setting populated by 2D human figures, ensuring that Paddington was always the centre of attention.
Wood’s puppet was based on the original book illustrations of Peggy Fortnum, as well as an officially approved soft toy made by Gabrielle Designs, a small company which had been started by Shirley and Eddie Clarkson (parents of future Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson) from a spare room of their home.
The series of five-minute adventures were shown just ahead of the evening news and episodes usually saw Paddington lend a well-meaning hand but cause chaos through misunderstanding.
In the resulting uproar, Paddington would remain terribly, politely English, thanks to a voiceover from distinguished actor Michael Hordern.
Often, discretion would prove the better part of valour and he would hurriedly depart the scene of the crime.
Several successful series were made and in 1979 Paddington won a silver medal at the New York Film and Television Festival. FilmFair later produced three half-hour specials in the 1980s.
Central and Hanna-Barbera produced the Americanised Paddington Bear cartoon series in 1990, and Canadian company Cinar produced The Adventures of Paddington Bear in 1997. Both sold worldwide but their animation was fairly undistinguished in comparison to Wood’s.