Gyles Brandreth's teddy bears say 'non' to EU Referendum controversy

Former Tory MP and teddy bear enthusiast Gyles Brandreth has refused to let his collection of furry creatures get drawn into the current EU Referendum debate - despite the international nature of his collection.

Gyles Brandreth at Newby Hall with the Muppet Show's Fozzie Bear donated by Jim Henson and Lynton bear given to him by Tony Blair.

Visiting Newby Hall where his vast collection is to be displayed in a new 'Bear House' which is open to visitors, the popular TV and radio personality told the Harrogate Advertiser his teddies were "above politics."

Gyles said: "One of the teddies was given to me by former French president Francois Mitterand and another by former PM Tony Blair but teddy bears are very much global people.

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"They've managed to stay out of the the referendum debate totally. Bears of the world unite!"

Gyles' collection, which he assembled over many years with his wife, Michele Brown, is believed to be of the world’s largest collections of famous teddy bears.

Previously housed at the former Teddy Bear Museum in Stratford-on-Avon.

At Newby, the collection will be housed in a new purpose-built Bear House in the extensive grounds and will be on permanent display from this weekend.

Bear lovers of all ages will be able to get ‘up close and pawsonal’ with world famous bears including the original star of the Paddington animated TV series; Sooty; Muppet Show stalwart Fozzie and Children in Need’s Pudsey Bear.

Literary bears are also well represented by ‘bear of very little brain’ Winnie the Pooh and the Bear of Avon, William Shakesbeare himself, designed by Gyles Brandreth.

The collection also features bear companions of the rich and famous.

The bears will be displayed in a series of specially commissioned tableaux ranging from a classic picnic and a library scene (books include Macbear, Paw and Peace, Jane Bear, The Merry Bears of Windsor, and the Encyclopedia Beartannica) to a church wedding and even an Olympics scene.

Newby Hall is one of Britain’s finest Adam Houses.

Built in the 1690s by Sir Christopher Wren, it was later enlarged and adapted by John Carr and subsequently Robert Adam.