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Paddington Bear

It’s hard to be sure that this news, which is impossibly exciting for British people of a certain age and mental attitude, will have quite the same resonance all the way over there, but here goes, from the beginning:

Paddington Bear is a hugely popular children’s character, created by Michael Bond.

His personal mythology goes as follows: discovered on a platform at Paddington Station – from which he takes his name – he’s a very polite bear who has travelled from Darkest Peru in a blue duffle coat that boasts a luggage label with “Please look after this bear, thank you” written upon it by his Great Aunt Lucy, who has moved to a retirement home.

He is adopted by the Browns, a sympathetic family who feed him marmalade sandwiches (his favorite, he keeps spares under his hat) and have to endure his ability to create utter chaos – of the ‘flooding the entire house’ variety – from the most well-meaning of beginnings.

He’s also the possessor of what he calls a Very Hard Stare, which is reserved for people who are unkind or impatient towards him. Most of his adventures involve him embarking on a project and then rather wishing he hadn’t.

There have been Paddington books, a popular animated TV show, narrated by Sir Michael Hordern, endless amounts of merchandise and toys, and now there is going to be a live action Paddington Bear movie, and Colin Firth is going to play Paddington, with Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as Mr and Mrs Brown.

Colin won’t be dressing in a bear suit, however, as told the Mail: “Paddington will be computer generated, and I will speak his lines with, I suspect, a slight Peruvian flavour.

“Every other character in the film will be real, live, human beings. But the idea is that Paddington will have something of me in his DNA because I’m going to do some sessions wearing one of those helmets with cameras to capture my face muscles, and all that data will somehow be incorporated into Paddington.

“Then they’ll use motion- capture equipment on someone more bear-size than me to do all the full body, bear stuff. I will do the table reading and rehearse with the other actors, but I won’t do the voice work until much later on — some time next year.

Naturally, for such a hugely British endeavor, the best character actors Blighty can muster have been brought in too. Julie Walters will play the Brown’s housekeeper Mrs Bird, and Jim Broadbent is in the frame too, possibly playing their irascible neighbour Mr Curry.

Oh and Emma Thompson had a hand in writing the script.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Colin and Hugh et al will be battling an evil Nicole Kidman (who also stars in Colin’s latest movie The Railway Man), who admits she found it a fairly easy job offer to accept:

“I just had to do the bear film. My agent called and said: ‘We’ve got this offer from London for you to be in a film about a Paddington Bear.’ And I said: “You mean the Paddington Bear?!”

“I was read the stories when I was little and I grew up with Paddington. I know all about his adventures and what mischief he got up to.”

Oh that’s it, blame the bear. Typical baddy.

The film starts shooting this autumn.

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By Fraser McAlpine