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Desert Island Discs

Michael Bond

Avery Cunliffe/Getty Images

Last week Paddington 2 knocked Citizen Kane off the top spot on the movie ratings website Rotten Tomatoes, making it the world’s best-reviewed film. Its creators had an all-star cast and CGI at their disposal for the 2017 movie, but turning the Paddington books into the original cartoon series was tricky, author Michael Bond told Roy Plomley on Desert Island Discs in 1976. “Unless you can find a bear with acting experience who doesn’t belong to a union, you have problems on your hands.” Eventually they used animation to bring the marmalade-loving Paddington to life. Bond even auditioned for a speaking role, but his voice acting wasn’t up to much: “They said we’ll ring you, but nobody ever did. I sat around the phone for weeks.”

The idea for the books came about “quite by accident”. In the early 1950s Bond missed his bus and decided to kill some time in a nearby shop. Inside he found a small toy bear that had been left on a shelf. He bought it, and straightaway Paddington was born. The books have sold an estimated 35 million copies, defining Bond’s entire career. “I went through a year… where I felt rather depressed about it all. But I think if I was to be taken over by anyone, Paddington is a rather nice person to be taken over by. He’s what I would like to be in life.” After all, this is a bear with a strong sense of right and wrong: “He’s got his feet, or his paws, very firmly on the ground.”

🎵 What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong

🎵 La Vie en Rose, Edith Piaf

🎵 Kyra Giorgena, Giannis Kalatzis and Litsa Diamanti

🎵 O soave fanciulla (from La bohème), Puccini

🎵 The Driving Instructor, Bob Newhart

🎵 Mama, Sanganas Five

🎵 Dream a Little Dream of Me, Ella Fitzgerald

🎵 Symphony No 9 in D minor, Beethoven

🎁 Grapevines

📚 Photograph album

Listen to the full episode here.