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Paddington Bear Voted the Nation’s Favourite Animated Character: Who Would You Have Picked?

By Periscope @periscopepost

The bronze statue of Paddington Bear at Paddington Station by Marcus Cornish. Photocredit: Caro's lines

Paddington Bear, the duffle-wearing marmalade-loving Bear from darkest Peru, was pronounced Britain’s favorite animated character at the ninthBritish Animation Awards at BFI Southbank Thursday night. Paddington, who hasn’t appeared on British television screens outside of adverts in more than a decade, was voted to victory after a three-week online public poll, beating out Bagpuss, Wallace and Gromit, and others.

But did he deserve to win? What does it say about the state of British animation that a bear not seen on our TV screens this century has taken this prize? Or does it say more about the voters? And who’s your favorite of the #animatedheroes?

The winner graciously thanks his fans. on Facebook: “Paddington was delighted to learn that he has officially been voted Britain’s Favourite Ever Animated Character…He would like to thank everyone who voted for him and for all of your lovely messages of support. Whilst others will be celebrating with a glass of Champagne, Paddington has opened a new jar of his favorite marmalade.”

The runners-up. The 21 other characters that made the shortlist included Roobarb and Custard, Bagpuss, Wallace and Gromit, Danger Mouse, Timmy (from Timmy Time), The Snowman, Mr Benn, Count Duckula, Super Ted, Postman Pat, Soup Dragon (The Clangers), Lola (Charlie And Lola), Peppa Pig, Aleksandr Orlov (Meerkat from Compare The Market), and Simon’s Cat, according to the Press Association.

An industry under threat? The British Animation Awards chose to run the poll to “celebrate the rich heritage of notable and well-loved animated characters” but also to raise awareness of the economic benefits of the industry and the need for tax breaks in line with foreign competitors” contributing to the “current debate about the future of animation production in the UK and the Animation UK Campaign (formerly known as Save British Animation)”. BAA Director Jayne Pilling said, according to the Press Association, “The UK is famed for its animation the world over. This vote celebrates the illustrious heritage of cherished characters that have been created in the UK over the last few decades and highlights the wealth of creative talent that could disappear if the industry continues to decline.”

Out of date? Brian Cosgrove, creator of Danger Mouse and Count Duckula, expressed surprise on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that there were so many old favourites on the list, but fellow guest Oli Hyatt of Animation UK  pointed out that this was a list voted for online by adults and that the poll had been publicised in The Telegraph. Children would probably have voted for more current TV characters such as Roary the Racing Car.

Tweeting childhood favourites. The nostalgia for and fond memories of Paddington and other childhood favourites was clear from Twitter, where #PaddingtonBear and #animatedheroes were trending. The Huffington Post offered up a slideshow of the best Tweets, asking vital questions such as: “Why did Paddington not have a Peruvian accent?” Paddington’s Facebook account responded: “Paddington can’t quite get over all the attention he’s been receiving this morning. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing at 32 Windsor Gardens with messages of congratulations and he’s just heard that he’s trending on Twitter. He’s not really sure what that means but he thinks it sounds quite important.”

Why is Paddington so special?

1. He eats Marmalade. Paddington is very fond of marmalade, so much so that he always carries some with him, either in a jar in his suitcase or spread on his sandwiches, which he keeps in his hat. This characteristic is so well known that it featured in many tweets today, #marmalade. Big Fat Gyspy Wedding star Paddy Doherty (@MrPaddyDoherty) tweeted: “Paddington Bear has been named Britain’s favorite animated character RT – If you fancy a marmalade sandwich”

2. He’s from Peru. Described by London24 as the “furry little immigrant from Darkest Peru”, according to his official biography, Paddington began life as a Peruvian bear named Pastuso, who was orphaned at an early age by an earthquake and was cared for by his Aunt Lucy until she had to go into a Home for Retired Bears in Lima and advised him to immigrate.

3. He’s a Millionaire Bear. The BBC reports that the Paddington books have sold more than 35 million copies around the world and have been translated into more than 40 languages. The latest title, Paddington Goes For Gold published this year, is just in time for the Olympics, which he will be attending, reports the Guardian. The character has spawned plenty of merchandise (there’s even a Paddington app), including a popular children toy wearing wellies, created by the parents of Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson. He and his sister were the first owners of these cuddly toys, reported London24. And  like other celebrities, he has appeared in advertising campaigns, most notably for Robertson’s Golden Shred Marmelade and, controversially, Marmite.

The name’s Bond. Michael Bond. Paddington was first introduced to us in a book by Michael Bond (a cameraman for the BBC’s long-running children’s programme, Blue Peter). Bond, now 86, was inspired by a small toy bear he bought for his wife on Christmas Eve 1956. He recalls: “I saw it left on a shelf in a London store and felt sorry for it. I took it home as a present for my wife Brenda and named it Paddington as we were living near Paddington Station at the time.” The first Paddington book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958 and he first appeared on TV in 1975. In this series, voiced by Michael Hordern, Paddington was played by a stop-motion puppet while other charcters were paper cut-outs. The five minute animations could attract audiences of over 6 million, reports the Telegraph. Bond, who still lives near Paddington station, says: “I still get letters from children all over the world, including from Peru where Paddington was born…He’s very much part of my life and very real to me.”

Watch the first episode of the original 1975 series, in which the Browns meet the bear from “darkest Peru” at Paddington station:

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