Looking back at our favourite grizzly characters

BACK in 1958, Britain was welcoming everyone, including Paddington Bear, a strange, confused stowaway from "darkest Peru" who had a compulsion for eating marmalade sandwiches.

Looking back at our favourite grizzly characters

Cute but rather wary, Paddington Bear had his own rather duncy little way of finding himself in troubling situations that usually ended up working out.

He will recall some of those events in his new book Love from Paddington which is set to be published in November. The book will feature a series of letters penned by the hero to his Aunt Lucy who is safe in her “home for retired bears” in Lima.

This will be creator Michael Bond’s 25th Paddington Bear story. The inspiration for this self-proclaimed “very rare bear” came when creator when the now 88-year-old was sheltering from a snow storm in Paddington Station, London on a cold Christmas Eve and spotted a lone teddy bear sitting on a shop shelf.

He wrote his first book in the series in ten days and PB has become one of the most recognised and loved fictional bears in the world.

There are others in the list of grizzly greats and here we have a look at seven more.

Ted (the Irish one)

A stuffed panda who said nothing and never moved seems an unlikely pretender to the throne but Ted’s occasional and often spooky appearences on RTÉ’s The Den made him the stuff of legend. The Scarlet Pimpernel of bears, this mysterious panda would regularly appear in studio but only when the presenter was missing from the shot. On occasion photos of Ted in strange locations would turn up and no one knew how he got there. Later, a running joke was introduced involving Ray D’Arcy wrestling with the almost life-sized panda often when the presenter least expected it. Another running joke had Zig and Zag telling him to “Keep it down Ted!” which the pair, and let’s face it, everyone else found hilarious. In all his years in The Den, Ted never broke his silence.

Ben

Those of us who grew up with only two channels will remember this gentle brute well. Ben was the adopted bear of one Grizzly Adams who graced our screens every saturday evening just before the news. Ben, named after Benjamin Franklin, was played by Bozo who had a talent for the chat; either that or he yawned a lot. Bozo died in 1999 at the age of 39.

SuperTed

On Irish television, SuperTed and his foes spoke as Gaelige but the hero himself was in fact Welsh. The swashbuckling, red caped, little bear was created in 1978 by Mike Young to help his son overcome his fear of the dark. Having been found defective in the factory he was made in, SuperTed was thrown in a rubbish bin only to be discovered by a Spotty Man who sprinkles him with cosmic dust and brings him to life. He is given special powers to fight evil and like all good superheroes finds an arch-nemesis in Texas-Pete, an evil cowboy who seeks wealth and power.

Winnie the Pooh

“If bears were bees,” sang Winnie-the-Pooh. “They’d build their nests at the bottom of trees.” Poor Pooh was never noted for his mental dexterity, even among his friends but he is happy in his skin, a half-decent poet and a loyal friend. He is a bear of simple pleasures ; namely ‘hunny’ and condensed milk. This most famous of fictional bears was created by AA Milne for his son Christopher Robin, who often appears in the books. Legal battles over merchandising rights and money involving Milne’s family have dogged the bear in recent years but it hasn’t affected his popularity.

Fozzie

“Why are fish so smart? Give up? ‘Cause they swim in schools.” One of Fozzie’s classics from the series The Muppet Show on which he played the eternally upbeat, always over-enthusiastic wannabe star.

He’s a bit of an eejit and probably wouldn’t last long in any Irish pub but America loves a trier and Fozzie was always that. A useful pianist and a terribly good terrible joke teller, Fozzie’s silliness was easier to swallow because of his kind nature and the silly pork pie hat; being Kermit’s best mate was probably a help too. Once asked by his comic partner Rowlf why he never wore shoes he replied: “Why should I? I’d still have bear feet.”

Wocka, wocka, wocka!

Yogi

With his best little buddy Boo-Boo, Yogi used to roam the forests and rivers of Jellystone Park looking for pic-a-nic baaaaaaskets left by rather irresponsible human tourists. This gave the ever-vigilant Ranger Smith, the hardest working ranger in children’s television, regular conniptions and lead to several run-ins, usually per episode. In truth the pair had a father-son like relationship. How could you not love him, he was smarter than the average bear.

Baloo

Named after the Hindi word for bear, “bhalu”, this loveable old chancer originally appeared as a sleepy brown bear who wisely taught Mowgli life’s moral code. By the time Disney got their hands on him in 1967 they had Baloo dancing and singing hit songs. In the movie he was voiced by a jazz band leader, Phil Harris, who improvised the lines to appear more natural.

His performance and that song have made Baloo unforgettable.

Sing it now: Look for the bare ...

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