Imagine if you were riding the subway home two days ago, just before the onset of the impending polar vortex, and a polar bear happened to lumber onto the platform. That’s basically what happened in the London Underground earlier this week. The massive bear was seen in half a dozen places across the city, nosing around in trash cans and sniffing frightened bystanders.
The animal’s constitutional through the city was a promotion for Sky Atlantic’s upcoming show Fortitude, a crime drama starring Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon, which is set in a remote Arctic town. As for the bear–it was an incredibly lifelike puppet, operated from the inside by professional puppeteers.
The semi-animatronic creature was the work of special effects company Millennium FX and Taylor Herring communications. It took a team of 19 people and 60 different types of materials (including 90 square feet of sheet fur) to build the eight foot-long creature. The bear looked so real, in part due to a process called flocking; individual hairs are threaded into the skull and an electrostatic current is used to make them stand up straight.
Surely, the criminals featured in Fortitude will walk on two legs, not four. But the show’s creators say that polar bears are a constant presence–and threat–to the characters on screen. The town in the series has 3000 polar bears and just 713 residents, so Tucci and Gambon better hope those animals are as cuddly as the one wandering around London.
Fortitude premiers at 10pm January 29 on Pivot.