Interview: Paddington Bear on immigration and buns

From deepest darkest Peru to Elstree Studios: Olivia Cole talks to Paddington Bear

Culture

26 Jul 2015

You adapted very well to life in London — were you concerned about how you might get on working in Hollywood?

I was rather worried at first, but then I discovered I only had to go as far as Elstree to do my filming, which meant I was able to come home each night to 32 Windsor Gardens. I did offer to go on the bus but I think Mr King was a bit worried I might get lost so they sent a special car to pick me up every day.

Spectator Life has heard that film producers can be quite fierce creatures. What advice have you for other animals looking to pursue projects in the film industry?

Mr Heyman is a very nice man, so I haven’t had much experience of fierce producers. I think a much bigger problem you have to face in the film industry is all the sitting around. Sometimes we spent a whole day filming a short scene and I only had to speak one line!

There were some rumours that you might have been asked to diet before the film. Humans are often under pressure to look slender on screen. Were you ever asked to lay off the marmalade sandwiches and buns?

If anyone had suggested I went on a diet, they would have been treated to one of my hard stares. I’ve certainly never laid off the marmalade sandwiches, although I did lay on one last week when I forgot that I’d left one under my bedclothes in case I got peckish in the night.

Should actors be allowed buns?

I think they’re essential. I would find it very difficult to get through a whole morning of acting without stopping for a mug of cocoa and a bun.

You used to be extremely popular with the traders in Portobello. Do you still enjoy the market? Have you seen any changes since you first started visiting?

I still visit the Portobello Road most mornings on my way to have elevenses with my friend Mr Gruber and I usually stop to have a chat with my friends in the market. Quite a lot of the shops have changed over the years, but fortunately the baker’s, where I go to buy our morning’s supply of buns, is still there.

Does Mr Gruber still do good business when so many of the interesting shops have been replaced by quite boring ones?

Mr Gruber is far too much of a gentleman to talk about how well his business is doing, but I do know he still gets plenty of customers going into his shop.

Does wearing a hat improve your day?

I find that the most important reason for wearing a hat is so that I can raise it when I meet people, although it’s also a very useful place to keep a marmalade sandwich for emergencies.

Duffel coats are very practical for British winters. Do you mind the fact that lots of people of all kind of ages seem to have adopted your style?

I think it just goes to show how sensible many people are. The toggles on a duffel coat are much easier to do up than buttons. When it’s really cold you can put up the hood and if it’s large enough, you don’t even need to take your hat off first. Best of all, there are usually large pockets for carrying important things like extra marmalade sandwiches.

You’re sometimes at the centre of minor calamities, but your very good manners often minimise the distress caused. Do you think it’s becoming more unusual to meet people with good manners?

I expect lots of people still know about good manners, but the problem is that they lead such busy lives nowadays they don’t always stop long enough to remember to use them.

Why are good manners so important?

It doesn’t take any longer to be polite than it does to be rude. If you’re polite to someone, it makes them feel happy and then that makes you feel happy, too. I can’t understand why anyone would want to be deliberately rude.

You’ve had so many opportunities that might usually come along to a bear once in a lifetime. How have you managed to keep your paws on the ground?

My Aunt Lucy always taught me to make the most of every opportunity but I feel very lucky to have had quite so many. I’m not sure I have much choice about keeping my paws on the ground, but I expect that’s because they’re usually covered in marmalade and they tend to stick to the pavement.

As a bear who made a new life in London, do you get upset when people say unkind things about immigrants to Britain?

I get upset when people say unkind things about anyone. Moving to another country can be very hard, especially when you’ve left behind your home and family. My Aunt Lucy always used to say, ‘Think before you speak,’ and I believe that is a valuable lesson for everyone.

If another bear found himself at Paddington station, looking for a good home, do you think he might encounter another kind family like the Browns?

I don’t think any bear would ever find another family quite as special as the Browns, but I would like to think that London is the sort of place where people wouldn’t leave a bear sitting all alone on a railway station for too long without coming to their rescue.

Paddington is in cinemas now


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