The Bedfordshire actor behind the little stowaway bear from darkest Peru

Queen Elizabeth II "hosting" Paddington Bear during a 2022 Platinum Party at the Palace sketch

Queen Elizabeth II "hosting" Paddington Bear during a 2022 Platinum Party at the Palace sketch - Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The little stowaway bear from darkest Peru has become an unlikely royal mascot.

Queen Elizabeth II was seen "hosting" at tea party with Paddington Bear in the sketch which opened her Platinum Party at the Palace in June 2022.

After her death on Thursday, September 8, mourners left cuddly Paddington Bear toys along the Mall and in London's Royal Parks. The BBC re-ran the famous "When Paddington met the Queen" skit on Saturday, September 17, with feature film Paddington (2014) and its 2017 sequel in the TV schedules over the Queen's funeral weekend.

A Paddington Bear tribute following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022

A Paddington Bear tribute following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 - Credit: John Walton/PA

A Paddington Bear tribute and a signature marmalade sandwich following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022

A Paddington Bear tribute and a signature marmalade sandwich following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 - Credit: Aine Fox/PA

But who is the voice behind this very rare sort of bear? Where is he from, and what else has he been in?

Bafta, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning Ben Whishaw is behind the hapless childhood favourite which could be the greatest film of all time - even better than chart-topping Citizen Kane, according to Whishaw's own assessment and rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Whishaw was born in Clifton on the Bedfordshire-Hertfordshire border and grew up in the village of Langford, near Henlow.

The now-41-year-old attended Clifton's Samuel Whitbread College - now an academy - and cut his teeth performing in The Big Spirit Youth Theatre at Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin.

Ben Whishaw, from Clifton, Bedfordshire

Ben Whishaw, from Clifton, Bedfordshire - Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

In 2006, Rory Reynolds, who was the youth theatre director at Big Spirit, said: "Young Ben was an undoubted star that shone but he was well-matched by some of his contemporaries."

The Bedfordshire actor found his big break in 1999 when he starred alongside Daniel Craig in The Trench.

By 2003, Whishaw found himself treading the boards at the Royal National Theatre, South Bank playing Brother Jasper in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, one year before playing the lead at the Old Vic's Hamlet.

Whishaw later starred in Brideshead Revisited (2008) as the once-youthful, later-self-loathing Sebastian Flyte.

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In 2011, he succeeded John Cleese as Q in the James Bond franchise for Skyfall - Queen Elizabeth II starred in a James Bond sketch for the London Olympic Games the following year alongside Daniel Craig.

Queen Elizabeth II performs alongside Daniel Craig for the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

Queen Elizabeth II performs alongside Daniel Craig for the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony - Credit: Nick Potts/PA

Whishaw reprised his role as Q in Spectre and No Time to Die.

On TV, he starred in the much-loved The Hour in 2011 and 2012 - which now has a 94 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes - A Very English Scandal in 2018 and The Adventures of Paddington TV series in 2019 and 2020.

The actor has previously spoken of his soft spot for his most recent Paddington film, Paddington 2.

In a Joe interview, he said: "It's a pretty good film, isn't it? Yeah, I do love that film.

"It feels like every moment of that film is perfect, you wouldn't change it, would you?

"It is so pleasurable. That is not easy to do."

Sam Ryder, the UK Eurovision entry 2022, was another Platinum Party at the Palace performer

Sam Ryder, the UK Eurovision entry 2022, was another Platinum Party at the Palace performer - Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

A member of Lion King cast performs at the Queen's 2022 Platinum Party at the Palace

A member of Lion King cast performs at the Queen's 2022 Platinum Party at the Palace - Credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Paddington 2 will air on BBC One on Monday, September 19 at 6.50pm, after the day's coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral.