Sir Michael Gambon and the polar bear of London

Yesterday, a polar bear appeared in the middle of central London, taking a ride on the tube, as well as roaming through the city. The bear was also filmed crossing the River Thames, using the bridge that the Death Eaters infamously destroy in the film version of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Don’t worry, though. This wasn’t a real polar bear.

It was a film prop created by a total of 19 Hollywood prop specialists, who spent a total of six weeks to produce the creature. And that’s not all – the creature was operated by two puppeteers:

Tom Wilton and Derek Arnold, who worked together on the West End show War Horse. They spent several hours studying real polar bears in preparation before practising for five days inside the semi-animatronic costume.

Wilton, who works the front of the bear, uses a pin-hole camera linked to internal monitors to see where he’s going. The setup was created by Buckinghamshire-based special effects company Millenium FX, which has worked on a number of other shows, including Doctor Who.

But why was a polar bear in London at all?

Well, Sir Michael Gambon (Professor Dumbledore) is currently starring in Sky Atlantic drama Fortitude, and the bear roamed London in order to promote the drama. The drama is set in the Arctic Circle, meaning that there is plenty of snow, ice, and polar bears present! You can learn more about the complex creation of the bear and why the team picked a polar bear to showcase the drama in the video below:

Plus, watch an exclusive clip from the drama, featuring Michael Gambon himself below – although if you don’t want any spoilers for the series, you might want to give it a miss for now:

Fortitude is currently airing on Sky Atlantic in the UK on Friday nights. And don’t forget that Michael Gambon is due to star in the upcoming adaptation of The Casual Vacancy, which starts in the UK next week and in the US at the end of April.

Are you watching Fortitude? Did you see the bear? Let us know in the comments!

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