When Paddington Bear leapt from the pages of Michael Bond’s books and hit our cinema screens back in 2014, it was impossible not to love him. How could anyone dislike a marmalade sandwich-loving, duffle coat-clad, softly-spoken Peruvian in bear form, whose eventual welcome into the heart of the Brown family made us all feel better about ourselves?
Yet, in the run up to its release, Paddington’s success had seemed far from a sure thing. The production was fraught with difficulties: Warner Bros, who had developed the screenplay for years with writer-director Paul King, opted not to pursue it, leaving poor Paddington homeless once again.
That issue was resolved after StudioCanal leapt into the breach – stumping up the entire £42 million budget, making it far and away their most expensive, and risky, production to date – but there was then a further hiccup with how Paddington sounded.
Everyone realised that Colin Firth, the original choice to voice the bear, wasn’t quite right – his mature tones didn’t fit with Paddington’s naïveté and vulnerability. So a last-minute switch was made, with Ben Whishaw stepping into those little red boots.