Why Paddington is more popular than ever!

Causing marmalade-spattered mayhem since 1958, Paddington’s appeal shows no sign of waning. With Paddington 2 roaring into ODEON cinemas now, we look back on the runaway success of the planet’s favourite little bear…

Paddington is massive. Not literally, of course. He can’t be more than three feet tall, and that’s including the hat. But in terms of sheer cultural impact – not to mention cold, hard sales – the little bear from deepest Darkest Peru is a furry colossus, straddling the planet, leaving paw-prints on popular culture and making successive generations go all gooey. The reality is that you can't not love him and Paddington 2 has already conquered people's hearts - and we all know how film critics can be hard to get...

 

 

5 Stars
“ Paddington 2 should be prescribed as an antidote to anyone who finds the madness of the modern world a bit wearing ”

5 Stars
“ This bearish sequel will leave you with a heart so warmed, you could trek across the Antarctic in beach shorts ”

5 Stars
"The family film of the year is a joyous and bright adventure ”

5 Stars
“ Superior sequel full of charm and humour ”


 

Now, as anticipation builds for Paddington 2 – due at ODEON cinemas on 10th November – we look back at the birth of a legend, and explain why everybody still wants to look after this bear!

 

The name’s Bond…

Rewind to Christmas Eve 1956. Desperately hunting for his wife’s present, BBC cameraman Michael Bond was rifling the toy department of London department store Selfridges when he spotted a solitary stuffed bear sat on a shelf – and a lightbulb lit above his head.

The first story – A Bear Called Paddington – was published two years later, with Bond basing the bear’s oh-so-British mannerisms on his own civil servant father (“He never went out without a hat. If he went in the sea, he’d wear his hat, just so he would have something to raise if he met somebody he knew. He’d be mortified if he couldn’t”).

The iconic ‘Please Look After This Bear’ cardboard sign around Paddington’s neck, meanwhile, was inspired by seeing wartime evacuees at Reading Station.


 

A Star Is Born…

By 1965, the Paddington series was selling well enough for Bond to write full-time, but he never anticipated the global phenomenon to come.

Since translated into 40 languages, the books have sold over 35 million copies, but that’s just the tip of a merchandising mountain that has at points included an animated TV series, a stage show, cookery books and a slew of cuddly toys.

Let’s be thankful that not all Paddington tie-ins made it off the drawing-board. “Toilet rolls with a picture of Paddington!” hooted Bond back in 2014. “That was an easy one to say no to…”


Bear On The Big Screen…

And yet, for all the success of the book series, it’s the transition to cinema that has won Paddington a whole new audience. Back in 2014, the original Paddington film was both a box-office smash and a critics’ favourite (Bond himself declared it “a delight from start to finish”).

And while the much-loved author sadly passed away this year aged 91, he’d surely be touched by the anticipation surrounding the release of Paddington 2 on 10 November. With director Paul King and the original core cast of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Julie Walters back onboard – plus tantalising new blood in the form of Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson – this is the family film that will secure Paddington’s title as the bear to beat.



A Bear For All Seasons…

Most kids’ characters are very much of-their-time (it’s hard to imagine ’50s contemporaries like Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men starring in their own modern blockbuster). So why does Paddington still tug our heartstrings, almost 60 years down the line?

Perhaps it’s because the little bear is an unfailingly polite presence in a world that sometimes forgets its manners. Maybe it’s because he represents multi-culturalism at a time when society has never been so rich and diverse (it’s no coincidence that Paddington masks are often seen in the crowd at pro-refugee demos).

As for Michael Bond, he had his own theory. “Paddington is eternally optimistic and always comes back for more, no matter how many times his hopes are dashed,” considered the author. “He stands up for things. He’s not afraid of going straight to the top and giving them a hard stare…


Paddington 2 will bear all in ODEON cinemas from 10th November. Book your tickets now!

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