Paddington, the beloved blue-coated, red-hatted, marmalade-loving bear, who first appeared in Paddington Station with a note that read, “Please look after this bear,” is returning to delight modern audiences. To mark the release of the feature film, which opens in American theaters this January and in the UK later this month, 50 statues of the always-polite teddy have gone on display across London. They’ve been designed by a host of celebrities, such the movie’s human stars, Hugh Bonneville, (his “Journey of Marmalade” bear wears a coat decorated with oranges) and Nicole Kidman, (her “Blush” bear looks like he’s been touched by Midas).
London Mayor Boris Johnson, David Beckham and Stephen Fry are among the other celebrities who have given the bear his own unique personality. Emma Watson created a butterfly-themed bear called “Flutterby Bear” and to nobody’s surprise, Benedict Cumberbatch dressed the little guy in a Sherlock hat. The statues go on display today at locations like the Royal Opera House, Horse Guards Parade, Selfridges, and Paddington station.
Paddington was imagined into the world on Christmas Eve 1956 when BBC cameraman Michael Bond saw a lonely toy bear on a shelf and took it home to his wife. Bond called the bear “Paddington” because the couple lived near Paddington Station. Bond published his first Paddington book two years later and the series became so successful that he quit his job to write full time. He says he never intended the books to be purely for children. The makers of the computer generated movie version of Paddington seem to have taken that to heart–the bear appeared in an oddly menacing publicity image (see below), which was later mashed into horror film posters.