Michael Bond: 1926-2017

The Velvet Onion is deeply saddened to learn of the death of beloved childrens author Michael Bond CBE, following a short illness.

© PA

Bond’s most famous work in a career which spanned six decades is, of course, Paddington Bear: the mamalade-loving young bear from deepest, darkest Peru. First appearing in the 1958 book A Bear Called Paddington, Bond continued to write stories featuring the character throughout his life – the last of which, Paddington’s Finest Hour, being published in April of this year.

Of course, The Velvet Onion’s direct link to Bond comes through Paddington too: in 2014, the first full length feature film based on the character was made by producer David Heyman and director/screenwriter Paul King.

© Heydey Films / Studio Canal

King: a TVO regular whose work on 2009’s Bunny and the Bull in part harked back to the animation style used for the 1970s Paddington television series, spent five years developing the project with Heyman, and as well as a large cast of big names such as Ben Wishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Peter Capaldi, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Nicole Kidman, sprinkled a large dose of Velvet Onion regulars throughout the film too.

With cameos from Tim DownieMatt LucasKayvan NovakSteve OramTom MeetenAlice LoweSimon FarnabyJustin EdwardsRufus Jones and James Bachman, the film also found time to include further big name cameos: from the likes of Jim Broadbent, Geoffrey Palmer and Michael Bond himself.

© Heydey Films / Studio Canal

Following the phenomenal box office success of the film (£268m worldwide), King has since gone on to co-write the forthcoming sequel with Simon Farnaby, as well as returning to the directors chair. Most of the original core cast are set to return, alongside Brendon Gleeson and Hugh Grant, plus cameos from Ben Miller, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Tom Davis and Jamie Demetriou for good measure. The film is set for release on 10th November 2017.

Beyond Paddington, Michael Bond also wrote the Olga De Polga books for children between 1971 and 2002, the Monsieur Pamplemousse books for adults between 1983 and 2015, and 19 other publications over his long career. He also wrote the BBC animation series The Herbs in 1968, now best remembered for introducing the character of Parsley the Lion into the public consciousness.

© Heydey Films / Studio Canal

Born in Newbury in 1926, and raised in Reading, Bond served in the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army between 1943 and 1947, and began writing in 1945 whilst stationed in Cairo. He worked as a BBC television cameraman in the late 1950s, including work on Blue Peter, and stayed with the corporation until 1965, when the success of his Paddington books meant he could become a full time writer.

Since the first Paddington novel in 1958, the books have sold over 35 million copies, been published in over forty languages. As a result, Bond was awarded an OBE in 1997, and a CBE in 2015.

He is survived by wife Sue, their children Karen and Anthony, and four grandchildren. The Velvet Onion team would like to extend our sympathies during this difficult time.

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