Movie Bears

Paddington Bear

Paddington is a very very famous bear. He was my son’s favourite bear as a child and when he visited London we went to see the statue at Paddington station.

This is what Wikipedia says about Paddington:

Paddington Bear is a fictional character in children’s literature. He first appeared on 13 October 1958 in the children’s book A Bear Called Paddington and has been featured in more than twenty books written by British author Michael Bond and illustrated by Peggy Fortnum and other artists.[1]

The friendly bear from “darkest Peru“—with his old hat, battered suitcase, duffel coat and love of marmalade—has become a classic character from British children’s literature.[2] An anthropomorphised bear, Paddington is always polite – addressing people as “Mr”, “Mrs” and “Miss”, rarely by first names – and kindhearted, though he inflicts hard stares on those who incur his disapproval.[3] He has an endless capacity for innocently getting into trouble, but he is known to “try so hard to get things right.” He was discovered in London Paddington station, by the (human) Brown family who adopted him, and thus he gives his full name as “Paddington Brown” (his original Peruvian name being too hard for them to pronounce).

As of June 2016, the Paddington Bear franchise was owned by Vivendi‘s StudioCanal. Bond, however, continued to own the publishing rights to his series, which was licensed to HarperCollins in April 2017 (two months before his death) for the next six years (up to 2023).[4]

Paddington books have been translated into 30 languages across 70 titles and have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. A much loved fictional character in the UK, a Paddington Bear soft toy was chosen by British tunnelers as the first item to pass through to their French counterparts when the two sides of the Channel Tunnel were linked in 1994.[5] Paddington Bear has been adapted for television, films and appeared in commercials. The critically acclaimed and commercially successful films Paddington (2014) and Paddington 2 (2017) were both nominated for the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film.



Michael Bond based Paddington Bear on a lone teddy bear he noticed on a shelf in a London store near Paddington Station on Christmas Eve 1956, which he bought as a present for his wife. He may have also been inspired by the sight, during World War II, of Jewish refugee children from Europe, or of London children being evacuated to the countryside.[6]

The bear inspired Bond to write a story; and, in ten days, he had written the first book. The book was given to his agent, Harvey Unna. A Bear Called Paddington was first published on 13 October 1958 by William Collins & Sons.[7][8]

Stuffed toy

Original 1972 Paddington Bear

The first Paddington Bear stuffed toy to be manufactured was created in 1972 by Gabrielle Designs, a small business run by Shirley and Eddie Clarkson, with the prototype made as a Christmas present for their children Joanna and Jeremy Clarkson (who later became a well-known British TV presenter and writer).[9]

Shirley Clarkson dressed the stuffed bear in Wellington boots to help it stand upright.[10] (Paddington received Wellingtons for Christmas in Paddington Marches On, 1964.)[11] The earliest bears wore small children’s boots manufactured by Dunlop Rubber until production could not meet demand. Gabrielle Designs then produced their boots with paw prints moulded into the soles.[9]

Shirley Clarkson’s book[12] describes the evolution of the toy Paddington from Christmas gift to subject of litigation and ultimately commercial success.[13]


In the first story, Paddington is found at Paddington railway station in London by the Brown family, sitting on his suitcase with a note attached to his coat that reads “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” Bond has said that his memories of newsreels showing trainloads of child evacuees leaving London during World War II, with labels around their necks and their possessions in small suitcases, prompted him to do the same for Paddington.[14]

Paddington arrives as a stowaway coming from “Darkest Peru”, sent by his Aunt Lucy (one of only a few known relatives aside from an Uncle Pastuzo who gave Paddington his hat),[15] who has gone to live in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima. He claims, “I came in a lifeboat, and ate marmalade. Bears like marmalade.” He tells them that no-one can understand his Peruvian name, so the Browns decide to call him Paddington after the railway station in which he was found. Paddington’s Peruvian name is ultimately revealed to be “Pastuso”[16] (not to be confused with his “Uncle Pastuzo”).

Bond originally wanted Paddington to have “travelled from darkest Africa”, but his agent advised him that there were no bears in Africa, and thus it was amended to Peru, home of the spectacled bear.[17]

They take him home to 32 Windsor Gardens near Notting Hill. While there is a real Windsor Gardens off Harrow Road between Notting Hill and Maida Vale (close to the location as described in the books) the Windsor Gardens in the book is fictitious and does not resemble the real road.[18] Paddington frequents the nearby Portobello Road market, where he is respected by the shopkeepers for driving a hard bargain.

When he gets annoyed with someone, he often gives them one of his special “hard stares” (taught to him by Aunt Lucy), which causes them to become flushed and embarrassed. Paddington’s adventures usually arise from him misunderstanding something and trying to right (what he perceives to be) unfair or unjust situations. This typically ends with him messing things up in some way. But in all his adventures, he ends up on top and everyone involved can laugh about it. (A notable exception to this rule is the Browns’ next-door neighbour Mr Curry, who, in every adventure, ends up in trouble.)

The stories follow Paddington’s adventures and mishaps in England, along with some snippets of information about his past. For instance, one story reveals that Paddington was orphaned in an earthquake,[16] before being taken in and raised by his Aunt Lucy.


There is a recurring cast of characters, all of whom are in some way entangled in Paddington’s misadventures. These include:

  • Paddington Bear: A friendly, charismatic and polite bear from Darkest Peru. Paddington was taken in by Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo after his parents died in an earthquake when he was very young. Paddington moves in with the Browns after Aunt Lucy moves into the Home for Retired Bears. Paddington is usually in some sort of trouble. Paddington’s given name is hard to pronounce (the film establishes that it is a series of roars, and Mr Brown’s attempt to imitate it produces something offensive). Mrs Brown names him after Paddington Station when they’re picking Judy up from boarding school.
  • Mr Henry Brown: A hapless but well-meaning City of London Risk Analyst. In the film, Henry initially refuses to let Paddington move in with his family, but he eventually warms to Paddington and builds him a bedroom in their attic.
  • Mrs Mary Brown: Henry’s more serious-minded yet exceptionally friendly wife. In the 1989 animated series Mary and her husband have a 12-year-old American nephew named David Russell.
  • Jonathan and Judy Brown: The energetic and friendly Brown children. It is never established if one is older than the other, leading to the possibility that they might be twins. It is when they are meeting Judy off the train from boarding school that the Browns meet Paddington. In the 1975 series and Paddington, Judy is older. In the 1989 animated series, and the 1997 animated series Jonathan is older. In the movie Judy and Jonathan are with their parents when they first meet him at Paddington Station, giving him his iconic name.
  • Mrs Bird: The Browns’ strict but kindly housekeeper. Although she is often annoyed by Paddington’s antics and mishaps, she is protective of him. Her first name has never been mentioned.
  • Mr Samuel Gruber: Paddington’s best friend. The friendly owner of an antique shop on the Portobello Road, with whom Paddington has his elevenses every day. He regularly takes Paddington and the Brown children on outings. He is a Hungarian immigrant. He addresses Paddington as “Mr Brown”.
  • Mr Reginald Curry: The Browns’ mean, nosy, arrogant and bad-tempered next-door neighbour, who serves as a contrast to Mr Gruber. He addresses Paddington simply as “Bear!” Penny-pinching by nature, Mr Curry always wants something for nothing and often persuades Paddington to run errands for him. He tends to invite himself to many of the Browns’ special occasions just to sample the snacks. In most of the stories, he gets his comeuppance as a frequent victim of Paddington’s misadventures; however, he does sometimes benefit from Paddington’s mistakes and has even rewarded him for them on occasion.
  • Lucy: Paddington’s aunt from Darkest Peru (the film establishes that she and Uncle Pastuzo rescued Paddington rather than being biologically related to him). She was his legal guardian until she had to move into the Home for Retired Bears in Lima, Peru. Why she had to do this was never made clear, until in the movie when, after a deadly earthquake, she informs Paddington that she is too old to travel to London with him. In the film adaptation, the explorer Montgomery Clyde names her “Lucy” after his mother.
  • Pastuzo: Paddington’s wealthy globe-trotting uncle, revealed in the film adaptation to have been named by the explorer Montgomery Clyde (who gave him his hat) after a boxer he met in a bar. In the film adaptation, Uncle Pastuzo is killed by a falling tree during an earthquake, and Paddington retrieves his hat.

Film adaptations

In 1975, Alamo Mode released a stop motion film called A Bear Called Paddington (1975).

In September 2007, Warner Bros. and producer David Heyman announced a film adaptation of Paddington Bear. Hamish McColl, who penned Mr Bean’s Holiday, would write the script. The film would not be an adaptation of an existing story, but “draw inspiration from the whole series” and feature a computer animated Paddington Bear interacting with a live-action environment.[42] Colin Firth had been announced to voice Paddington, however he announced his withdrawal on 17 June 2014, saying: “It’s been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realization that he simply doesn’t have my voice”.[43] In July 2014, it was announced that Ben Whishaw had replaced Firth.[44]

On 25 June 2012, an official teaser poster was released for the film,[45] stating that it would be released during 2014. A trailer was subsequently released confirming the release to be 28 November 2014. On 17 November 2014, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the film a PG certificate and advised parents that the film contained “dangerous behaviour, mild threat, mild sex references, [and] mild bad language”. Paul King, the film’s director, told BBC reporter Tim Muffett: “I’m not surprised about that [the PG certificate] but I don’t think it’s a PG for sexiness. That I would find very odd”. Paddington’s creator, Michael Bond, said he was “totally amazed” at the BBFC’s advice. After the film’s distributor challenged the certification, the BBFC revised the wording of its parental guidance, replacing “mild sex references” with “innuendo”. It also further qualified the “mild bad language” as “infrequent”, saying it referred to “a single mumbled use of ‘bloody'”.[46]

To celebrate the release of the film, the Paddington Trail was launched.[47] From 4 November until 30 December 2014, 50 Paddington statues were placed around London close to museums, parks, shops and key landmarks. The statues have been created by artists, designers and celebrities, including supermodel Kate Moss, actress Nicole Kidman, and Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville. As the lead charity partner of The Paddington Trail, the NSPCC held an online auction in November and a live auction in December for the statues. All proceeds from the sale went to charity.

During 2015, it was announced that the studio was in talks with the producer about a sequel.[48] The sequel, titled Paddington 2, was released on 10 November 2017 in the UK to universal acclaim.[49]

In popular culture

A statue of Paddington in Parque Salazar, Miraflores, Lima

Paddington was featured on the Royal Mail 1st class stamp in the Animal Tales series released on 10 January 2006 and had previously been featured on one of the 1st class Greetings Messages stamps, released on 1 February 1994.

There is a Paddington Bear themed hotel in Lawrence Block’s The Burglar in the Rye (1999).

Paddington Bear featured in the Marmite UK TV advertisement (first broadcast on 13 September 2007),[50] in which he tries a marmite and cheese sandwich instead of his traditional marmalade sandwich.[51]

On 13 October 2008, Google celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Paddington publication by placing an image of the travelling bear with a sign showing Peru and London incorporated into Google’s logo.[52]

In November 2014, a balloon with Paddington Bear was introduced in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A song about Paddington Bear, “Shine” was released on 13 January 2015 by Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams.

As part of the promotion of film and to celebrate cross-cultural links between the UK and Peru, the British embassy and StudioCanal commissioned a statue of Paddington in Parque Salazar in the Miraflores district of the Peruvian capital, which was unveiled in July 2015.

Paddington Bear is also used in marketing for Robertson’s, on the label of their Golden Shred marmalade.

The 2017 Marks and Spencer Christmas advertisement for television shows Paddington mistaking a petty criminal for Santa Claus and helping him right the wrong by returning the gifts to their rightful owners.


Wikipedia contributors. (2021, February 25). Paddington Bear. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:03, March 24, 2021, from


Media Attributions

  • PaddingtonStation-PaddingtonBear


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

A Guide to Bears Copyright © by Toronto Metropolitan University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book