The first Paddington Bear book written by Michael Bond in 1958, and the series is still going strong today. So popular is the marmalade loving bear from deepest, darkest Peru, that a total of three television series have been made about him. Out of the three, the original from 1975 is by far the best.
While the books were written for the 7-11 year old market, the television series was aimed for children at about the age of three upwards. The stories are truncated into four minute narratives, but despite some dramatic cuts and a few tweaks to the story-lines, the television series remains remarkably faithful to Bond's books. My only real criticism would be the characterisation of Mr. Brown, who in the books is a very genial fellow, but in the television show, pretty grumpy and pessimistic.
What I love most about Paddington is the way it is stylised: a unique blend of puppetry and animation. Paddington Bear and all the objects he interacts with are 3D models and moved using stock animation. The backgrounds and other characters, on the other hand, are all hand drawn, and look a bit like paper dolls.
In addition, there are three 20-25 minute specials. Paddington Goes To The Movies, there is a charming recreation of Dancing in the Rain, while Paddington Goes to School (my personal favourite) uncovers the mystery of why Paddington is sometime portrayed as wearing black hat and sometimes a red hat. The third special, Paddington’s Birthday Bonanza is in a slightly different style, with brighter colours being used on the background and characters, rather than washed out watercolour.
The simple animation in Paddington allows for more focus on story and character, and I highly recommend you buy the DVD for your children. There are currently three editions available, two of which are boxsets (one with the Union Jack and the other presented as Paddington's suitcase), while the other is a two-disc case. I bought the two-disc edition for a number of reasons. First, it is about half the RRP price of the other two, second, it takes up half the space, and third, they all offer exactly the same content: the complete collection of fifty-six episodes, plus the three twenty-minute specials.