Paddington sketch was Queen's 'most lovely goodbye' during Platinum Jubilee

Writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce has reflected on his time writing the beloved Paddington sketch the Queen took part in during her Platinum Jubilee this year.

The Queen died on Thursday at Balmoral, aged 96, and since then people around the world have reminisced on her moments in the pop culture spotlight as they remember her wider legacy.

Following the news of her death – which came hours after a statement from Buckingham Palace shared doctors’ concerns for the royal’s health – Cottrell-Boyce has shared an insight into what it was like to work with the monarch on the sketch, which saw her interact with Paddington Bear.

He revealed that ‘by a twist of fortune’ he was involved in the creation of the two comedy sketches the Queen was in during her reign, having also been on the team who created her now-famous James Bond skit for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Cottrell-Boyce joked he ‘should have been by royal appointment gag writer to HM’, and branded her Paddington moment a ‘happy goodbye’.

On the poignancy the moment will continue to hold, he mused ‘when we asked the Queen to tea with Paddington, something magic happened – the most lovely goodbye’.

He wrote for the Observer: ‘It used to be said that millions of people had dreams in which they had tea with the Queen. Even our dream life is going to have to change.

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‘Watching her have tea with Paddington will have to do instead. It’s easy to see why that was so powerful. In retrospect, it was valedictory. A woman waving a happy goodbye to her grandchildren and great grandchildren, an image of love and a happy death.’

Referencing the conspiracy theories they had instead created a ‘deep fake Queen’ but ‘no one seemed to question the reality of the bear’, the writer mused of the Queen’s ‘powerful’ role.

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He wrote: ‘The most emotional moment in that encounter with Paddington is when the bear says: “Thank you, Ma’am. For everything.” People will ask: “What everything?” Well, make your own list.

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‘But I’m thankful for the way she used the peculiar power of her archaic role to allow us to glimpse, however fleetingly, that we share something good and that we need to defend that.’

On Friday, BBC News featured a live interview with Cottrell-Boyce, who emphasised that for the Paddington sketch, he ‘certainly did not ring up the Palace’, as he believes the idea for the Queen’s involvement actually came from the Palace itself.

He felt that the scene ‘resonated’ with so many people because Paddington ‘embodies so many of the values she stood for’, making the interaction ‘significant’ rather than just a ‘purely cute thing to do’.

At the end of the sketch, the Queen tapped on her teacup as the band Queen began their performance with Adam Lambert, marking the beginning of the Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace.

‘I put my hand up and say in those script meetings, I was very adamant that we shouldn’t end with her tapping the cup. I thought she’ll never pull that off, it’s too much to ask,’ Cottrell-Boyce confessed.

‘She pulls it off brilliantly. Amazing. She’s absolutely glowing in that moment, isn’t she?’

Cottrell-Boyce commended the late Queen on her acting skills in the scene, considering she had to pretend that she was sharing an exchange with the fictional, animated Paddington Bear, who of course wasn’t actually there in real life.

‘You’ve got to remember that’s real acting that’s going on there. Paddington isn’t really in the room. She’s acting with an eyeline and with someone pretending to be Paddington. That’s proper acting going on,’ he said.

‘But I also think it’s true happiness. She’s someone who was approaching the end of her life, she knew she was. This is a sign-off, isn’t it? And as a woman of faith, that was a prospect that she could look forward to. You’re looking at someone who is approaching that with a happy heart.’

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