Polar bear joins the daily commute in London

London commuters did a double-take when they saw a polar bear boarding a tube on the Underground. However, while the ‘animal’ certainly looked real, it was in fact a fully-animated creature, which required two people to operate properly from inside the bear's eight foot frame.

An animatronic polar bear is greeted by 3-year-old Trixie Day, from London

An animatronic polar bear is greeted by three year-old Trixie Day, from London Image by David Parry/PA Wire

The ‘creature’ came face to face with with early-morning commuters at Charing Cross, before wandering across Hampstead Heath and even heading along the South Bank. The massive male bear’s trip was to mark the launch of Sky Atlantic’s new crime drama, Fortitude, the Evening Standard reports.

Commuters share a tube with an animatronic polar bear on the London Underground today

Commuters share a tube with an animatronic polar bear on the London Underground.Image by David Parry/PA Wire

The eleven part series, which stars Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon and Christopher Ecclestone, was made in both Iceland and the UK and revolves around a small community in the Arctic that is rocked by a savage murder.

The polar bear was operated by puppeteers Tom Wilton and Derek Arnold, who collaborated on the critically-acclaimed West End show, War Horse. The pair spent hours studying footage of real polar bears in preparation, before five days in the costume to perfect the animal’s movements.

The 'polar bear' on the platform in the London Underground today

The 'polar bear' on the platform in the London Underground. Image by David Parry/PA Wire

Mr Wilton, 34, who was the front of the bear, told the Sandard that he was “worried” about getting the creature up and down stairs and of getting stuck in tight turns. The animated bear has a pin-hole camera in its nose and by linking to internal monitors, allowing him to see. It was created by special effects experts Millennium FX.

The Director of Sky Atlantic, Zai Bennett said: “To launch our new Arctic-noir thriller we wanted to bring a realistic polar bear to the streets of London to give people an up close experience of what it must be like to come face to face with one of the biggest, but un-credited stars of our new show.”

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