The first Paddington book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958. This most enduring of children's literary characters has since featured in twenty-five more books, with the most recent being released in 2017, the same year in which Michael Bond passed away aged 91. In 2014, a whole new audience was introduced to the lovable bear as he made his debut on the big screen in Paddington
However, as a child of the seventies, my fondest memories of Paddington Bear all derive from the wonderful BBC TV adaptation which was first broadcast in 1975.
Marmalade Sandwiches and Hard Stares - Paddington on the BBC
As a child, I was utterly captivated by Paddington. The adventures and unintentional mishaps of the well-meaning bear kept me glued to the screen. I probably owe my life-long love of reading to Paddington too, as the television series inspired me to read all of the Paddington Bear books I could lay my young hands on.
Revisiting Paddington now as an adult (although still a big soppy kid at heart), it is easy to see why this wonderful piece of Proper Children's Telly is still so fondly remembered by all of a certain age. The ingredients for magic are all present and correct. Right from the start the memorable theme tune perfectly encapsulated the gentle, leisurely nature of the show, while the gloriously smooth voice of Sir Michael Hordern as narrator added both depth of character and a sprinkling of class to the proceedings. The fact that only Paddington Bear himself was animated using the stop-motion process, while all of the other characters were flat 2-D drawings, simply made this marmalade-loving, hard-stare-giving Peruvian bear all the more real to young eyes.
Paddington Politely Raised His Hat
One of the finest qualities about many of the children's television shows from the 70s era is that they told gentle stories which had the power to captivate. Paddington was a fine example of this simple but effective approach. To further elevate this marvellous series into the upper echelons of Proper Telly greatness, the character of Paddington Bear himself was so utterly polite. He always raised his hat, never failed to say please and thank you and only used his trademark 'hard stare' when totally necessary. A perfect role model for youngsters in many ways and a type which I dearly wish there were more of today.
Thank you Michael Bond for the wonderful childhood memories. I think there is just enough time now to make a marmalade sandwich before settling down to watch the very first episode of Paddington from January 1975.
You can read more about Paddington in my upcoming book Proper Telly, scheduled for release later this year.