There’s a film of Paddington Bear released in cinemas this November with Hugh Bonneville as Mr Brown, Nicole Kidman as a scheming taxidermist, Peter Capaldi playing the Browns’ grouchy neighbour and Ben Whishaw voicing Paddington.
But for those of you brought up with Paddington toys in your early years it may not escape your attention that there is nevertheless something missing – his wellington boots.
“I can reveal that that’s all down to Jeremy Clarkson’s family,” Bonneville tells us. “In the sketches in the original book, he’s not wearing wellies at all and acquires the blue duffel coat. Jeremy Clarkson’s family created the toy of the bear and it kept falling over and they said: ‘Well, why don’t we put it in wellington boots?’ So that came along as a piece of merchandise.”
Bonneville is not wrong about the origins of all this. Clarkson’s parents, Shirley and Eddie, did run a small design business called Gabrielle Designs and Shirley made a prototype for the first Paddington Bear stuffed toy in 1972 and gave it to Jeremy, then 12, and his sister Joanna for Christmas.
These early bears are now considered collectors’ items as all of them were handmade in a small factory, latterly known as the Bear Garden, in Doncaster. And they did have wellies. Unlike our new ursine movie star.