Polar Bears was a series of computer-animated shorts that were part of the second (and final) series of Lenny Henry In Pieces, a sketch comedy show starring Lenny Henry. They aired in March 2003 on the United Kingdom's BBC One.
The series had a sitcom feel and revolved around a group of four polar bears who lived in a grimy and run-down concrete enclosure in Dudley Zoo in the West Midlands of England. The four characters were:
- Gary, an obese and lazy male, who also suffers from impotence. He was voiced by Lenny Henry.
- Claudia, Gary's long-suffering wife. She was voiced by Alison Steadman.
- Shane, Gary and Claudia's son, though it is suggested that Gary may not be the biological father. Shane was born in captivity and has no knowledge of the wild. He was voiced by Barry Farrimond.
- Ian, Gary's elderly uncle. His manner with Claudia suggests he is her older brother. Both he and Claudia were originally born in the Arctic. He was voiced by Trevor Peacock.
Seven episodes were made, scripted by Chris Reddy. Originally, there was some thought given to having Lenny Henry dress up for the sketches, but he instead suggested they be animated. Henry's producer, Lucy Robinson, approached several animation studios, and chose to have the episodes directed by Pierre Coffin, working for Passion Pictures.
Alphabetically, the seven episodes were:
- Gary's Egg: Shane finds a large egg in the enclosure. Ian decided to play a prank by placing it next to the slumbering Gary.
- Gary's Fall: Whilst playing soccer with Shane, Gary falls into the enclosure's recently-drained pool and breaks both his arms.
- Gary's Hunting: Shane finds his father hiding from the zoo keepers, whom Gary believes want to shoot him with an anaesthetic dart before doing medical experiments on him.
- Shane's Work Placement: Despite the unlikelihood of success, Shane decides he wants to become a journalist.
- The Arctic Grip: Ian teaches Shane the ancient Arctic martial art of The Frozen Fist.
- The Bamboo Group: Claudia encourages Gary to go the "The Bamboo Group" - a support group amongst the zoo's pandas for those with erectile difficulties.
- The Breeding Program: Shane is depressed about never having experienced life in the Arctic, and doesn't feel like a "real" polar bear.
- Lenny's back in Pieces on BBC ONE - press release on bbc.co.uk. Retrieved July 12, 2008
- Article on the making of Polar Bears on animwatch.com. Retrieved July 12, 2008
- Episodes of Polar Bears on Pierre Coffin's website