us a story Old Bear, we'll all gather round..."
Bear is a worn and frayed old Steiff teddy bear, who lives in a nursery
soft toy friends Bramwell Brown, Duck, Rabbit, Little
Bear, Jolly Tall the giraffe,
Hoot the owl and Ruff the dog. Their busy days involve
helping each other, playing
games, making jigsaw puzzles, celebrating birthdays,
solving mysteries, performing
plays and much more besides.
This charming stop-motion series is adapted from
the popular picture stories
by Jane Hissey, and as is so often the case with this
kind of British series,
the translation is perfect, right down to the last
worn thread of fur. All of the nursery
toys are "real" toys, familiar from many-a-childhood,
and brought to life by the
skillful crew at Ealing Animation. The production
is steeped in the sepia of
childhood nostalgia. From the opening bars of its
hummable theme, "Old Bear
and Friends" carries the viewer away downstream, with
gentle characters and
stories, and the warm, cossetting tones of Anton
Rodgers' narration. Little wonder
the series picked up a BAFTA and animation awards
around the globe.
The first book in Jane Hissey's series, "Little
Bear's Trousers", was published
in 1986. In a lovely little touch, the film makers
have Old Bear choose a Jane
Hissey book from the shelf during the title sequence.
Old Bear settles down to
read the tale to his nursery friends, and we embark
on another story with them.
Some adventures take the toys out of the nursery
altogether and into the garden,
or indeed, in the case of "The
Boat Race", all the way to the perils of a full
The three series were followed by a Christmas special.
Christmas Star" follows the exploits of
the nursery toys one Christmas Eve.
By the way, those with a hankering for teddy bear
nostalgia might also want to
track down The Upstairs,
Downstairs Bears from FilmFair...
The series is billed as being "Old Bear Stories".
But Jane Hissey's books
are billed as "Old Bear and Friends".
The two titles often get confused
Hissey's Old Bear storybooks
This is a rundown of the storybooks only. There
have of course been
numerous series tie-ins and activity/stationery
alongside these works...
1986 - Little Bear's Trousers
1998 - Old Bear
1998 - Teddy Bear Tales
1989 - Little Bear Lost
1990 - Jolly Tall
1991 - Jolly Snow
1992 - Little Bear's Bedtime
1992 - Little Bear's Day
1994 - Ruff
1996 - Hoot
1999 - Little Bear's Dragon and Other Stories
2003 - Splash