Marks & Spencer has released its highly-anticipated Christmas advert, and it's one of the company's most heart-warming festive offerings yet. Stealing the show this year is Paddington Bear, who is seen unwittingly saving Christmas when he mistakes a burglar for Santa. The beloved character, voiced by Ben Whishaw, is woken on Christmas Eve by an intruder on the roof, who he believes to be Father Christmas. Seeing presents in the man's sack addressed to his friends and neighbours, Paddington then insists on helping deliver all the presents back to where they belong. Along the way, the little bear innocently helps the burglar embrace the true spirit of Christmas, and see the error of his ways. The advert closes with Paddington wishing the thief a 'Merry Christmas' and presenting him with one of his beloved marmalade sandwiches.
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Paddington Bear is the star of this year's Marks & Spencer's Christmas advert
M&S's global brand and marketing director, Rob Weston, said the company wanted to make an advert that appealed to the whole family, saying: "People are looking forward to escaping into the Christmas bubble, and our aim is to provide you with a story that is charming and leaves you feeling good at the end." Describing Paddington as a "much-loved British icon", he added: "There are few things more British than Paddington and M&S."
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The advert's debut comes just a few days before the release of the latest film, Paddington 2, which arrives in cinemas on 10 November. Created by Grey London, the advert features Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington, and also sees a cameo-appearance by veteran newsreader Angela Rippon. It took four months to create. In addition to the Christmas video, M&S will be selling more than 90 Paddington-themed products, including children’s blue duffle coats, cuddly toys and marmalade. Using #LoveTheBear across all their social media platforms, as well as Facebook-friendly versions of the advert, Mr Weston said it is "by far our most digital campaign to date".
Paddington and the Christmas Visitor will be televised in full during the Pride of Britain Awards on ITV on 7 November.