Top Bear not Top Gear - the connection between Jeremy Clarkson and Paddington Bear

by Fingal Libraries
by Fingal Libraries on August 12, 2016 in Libraries

Thirty years ago I visited a Book Show in the RDS with my mother and sister.  One of the booksellers had a selection of Paddington Bear Books for sale.  On top of the display of Paddington Books proudly stood a Paddington Bear Teddy in his very smart duffle coat and wellington boots. There was a […]

Thirty years ago I visited a Book Show in the RDS with my mother and sister. One of the booksellers had a selection of Paddington Bear Books for sale. On top of the display of Paddington Books proudly stood a Paddington Bear Teddy in his very smart duffle coat and wellington boots. There was a competition to win the bear where you had to complete a quiz about Paddington Bear and then submit in the competition box. My sister and I were big Paddington fans so we eagerly completed the quiz and entered the competition. A week later there was serious excitement in our house when my mother got a phone call to say that I had won the Paddington Bear Teddy! Winning this bear was the beginning of my Paddington Bear collection and a life long interest in Paddington Bear.

Paddington Bear designed by Gabrielle Designs-missing his label and hat.
Paddington Bear designed by Gabrielle Designs-missing his label and hat.

So this brings us to Jeremy Clarkson and how he is connected to Paddington Bear. When I was older I decided to research my original Paddington Bear that I had won as a child. From the label on the back of the bear I could see that it was made in England by Gabrielle Designs. I then discovered that the owner of Gabrielle Designs was none other than Jeremy Clarkson’s mother Shirley Clarkson!

Mini Paddington Bear
Mini Paddington Bear

Shirley and her husband owned a small toy making business and made the first Paddington Bear as a Christmas present for Jeremy and his sister Joanna. In order to give Paddington Bear his up turned snout, Mrs Clarkson gave him a whack with her hairbrush and it is said when the bear went in to mass production she still continued to hit each bear with the brush before it was shipped out to stores!

Shirley Clarkson has written a book about the creation of the Paddington Bear and I highly recommend it, if you would like to discover more about Paddington Bear and Gabrielle Designs. It is titled “Bearly Believable” and is available from Fingal Libraries.