Quintessentially British: What Makes Paddington Bear So British?

The supermarket Christmas adverts are being released, this is not a drill! Get your tissues and debating caps out because Waitrose et al are already vying to win the hearts of the UK population before we’ve had Armistice day.

M&S have gone full-British this year – spoiler alert – with the casting of Paddington Bear as the headline act for the supermarket’s advert. One word: genius; who can fault Britain’s most loveable bear?

There’s something comforting about the advert; something which is driven by Paddington himself. The familiarity the British audience resonates with the character is like an unavoidable charm; it’s the Britishness within which makes the bear so likeable.

Just by visualising Paddington it looks as if the Union Jack has thrown up on him; from the blue duffle coat to the red wellington boots, the colours are everything that embodies the symbol.

The clothes themselves represent Britain in another way; the association of the duffle coat and British soldiers at war, coupled with the boots and the stereotypical British weather; Britain and rain are two words which just go hand-in-hand.

If it’s not the clothes of Paddington, it’s his place of discovery which routes him to British soil – Paddington Station. A crucial limb to the body of British travel and an architecture which gives the station an element of romance and old-school British feel; it’s the perfect beginning to the story of Paddington.

If Paddington’s starting his journey at a train station, he’s ending it on the other side. When the channel tunnel between England and France was completed in 1994, a stuffed Paddington Bear was the tunnellers’ choice to use as the first person – ok, object – to test drive the tunnel; he’s literally stamping his mark on one of Britain’s most iconic modes of travel.

Away from his travels, it’s Paddington’s manners which make him more British than anything. Paddington’s preference for addressing people with ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’ is the archetypal polite way to go about showing your respect; Paddington’s got it in abundance.

M&S have surely won the Christmas advert battle just by casting the iconic British bear, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see their marmalade sales go through the roof following this ingenious move.

Bravo, M&S.

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