Hello and welcome to another Vintage Media Millennial blog. This week, I write about a series I hold great fondness for.
When I consider my favourite television shows of all time, the 1970s Paddington series is definitely up there. It might seem strange that a children’s animation from 15 years before I was born would rank highly, but it does. Even all this time later, it has lost none of the charm I fell in love with as a youngster.
I am delighted to hear Fabulous Films will release 70s Paddington on Blu-Ray, fully restored and remastered. This news made me think of my relationship with the series, and how it has shaped my life.
Paddington was created by Michael Bond, who wrote a series of books on the character; Starting in 1959 with A Bear Called Paddington. The TV adaptation was written by Bond and produced in stop frame animation by Ivor Wood and FilmFair. British Actor Michael Horden provided the narration. It ran for 56 episodes over 2 series, and 3 specials.
The series followed a bear who had stowed away from “darkest Peru”. He meets the Brown family at Paddington station, who take him home. A series of adventures follows.
My earliest memory of this show was seeing the first episode on a VHS I had when I was about 3. I was laying in bed, and saw the distinctive prominently black and white title sequence in front of me. Since then, I smile each time I hear the familiar title music.
As I grew up, I became interested in the subject of stop frame animation; Particularly the work of Ivor Wood. I discovered much of his works from VHS tapes that had belonged to an older sibling. The likes of The Adventures of Parsley, The Wombles, Magic Roundabout, Postman Pat, Bertha and Charlie Chalk all became familiar comfort watches to me.
I got to discover more episodes of Paddington, many years later, when I bought the complete box set on DVD. Once again I laid in bed and watched and got carried away by Horden’s gentle yet authoritative narration.
As with Wood’s other productions, Paddington had a similar style to the other shows made around the same time. How Paddington’s nose moved when he ate, was very similar to that of Orinoco on the Wombles. It was also the ease with which these models could do physical comedy so convincingly. These little details, along with the striking 2D and real model juxtaposition made Paddington an utter delight.
Discovering the Books
Recently, I bought a large set of the original books. My son and I had already watched the original series, the remake and the movies, but I had often wondered what the original text was like. It turned out that the series followed the text quite closely, only changing a few details to suit the chosen animation style.
Overall, Paddington has positively shaped my life. It fueled my love for stop-frame animation and made me appreciate the style of narration. , With every revisit of the series, I constantly find something new to appreciate about the series. If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing out on a charming piece of British animation history.