If you’re in London this week and spot a polar bear strolling past you, don’t worry. It’s all part of a promotional campaign for a new TV drama.
A 8 foot-long polar bear has been spotted in Hampstead Heath, on the London Underground and at the South Bank, no doubt making passers-by run for their safety (or at least do a double take). However, there’s no need to call the RSPCA, it’s not a real animal.
It takes two people to operate the animatronic creature — puppeteers Tom Wilton and Derek Arnold, who spent hours examining footage of real polar bears to prepare for the project. The 8-foot long bear has a pinhole camera in its nose, connected to internal cameras that Wilton — the front of the bear — sees.
It’s all part of the launch of Sky Atlantic’s new crime drama Fortitude, starring Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon and Christopher Ecclestone. The 11-part television series was filmed in both Iceland and the U.K. and revolves around a close-knit Arctic community that is devastated by a brutal murder.
It took 19 experts only eight weeks to build the bear, which was created by special effects company Millennium FX. The Buckinghamshire-based firm have previously worked on Doctor Who, Being Human and Primeval. Co-owner Rob Mayer told the Evening Standard that building the creature was “a bit of a challenge” and that the team “have got quite attached to it.”
Over 60 different materials were used to fashion the polar bear, including clay, latex and over 90 square foot of fur. Each hair on its coat was attached individually to create the most realistic effect possible.