'The Human Bear': The remarkable story of Hercules the famous wrestling grizzly

New documentary traces the unique relationship that Hercules and his owners forged during their 25 years together

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The Independent Culture

It's a simple story of man, wife, Scottish rural life and a 9ft half-ton grizzly bear who once caddied for Bob Hope.

Now, the remarkable story of Andy and Maggie Robin and their grizzly bear Hercules is set to be revealed in a new documentary on Channel 5.

'Hercules the Human Bear', which is slated for screening in April, traces the unique relationship that Andy, Maggie and Hercules forged during their 25 years together.

Purchased from a Scottish zoo for £50 in 1976, Hercules initially fulfilled the role of a unique sparring partner for wrestling World Champion Andy.

Their performances on the UK circuit in the late 1970s and early 1980s were watched by audiences of 15 million viewers on ITV's World of Sport programme.

This early success catapulted the bear and its owner to international stardom, initially in adverts for products such as Kleenex and Hofmeister Beer, and then cameo appearances in James Bond’s Octopussy and a range of small film roles, children's documentaries and chat shows.

His fame was further accelerated when he went missing on Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides in August 1980 during the filming of an advert.

The story of his escape and his 24 days on the lam became a national and international news story. He was eventually spotted by a crofter, shot with a tranquilliser dart, netted and flown by helicopter back home.

In his long career he also once caddied for comedian Bob Hope at the Scottish golf course Gleneagles, received a telegram from Ronald Reagan, appeared on the front cover of Time magazine and was named "Personality of the Year" by the Scottish Tourist Board.

However, sadly his career was cut short after he fell over and slipped a disc in his back during the filming of a television advert in 1996.

hercules-6.jpgThe new Channel Five documentary unveils extraordinary archive film footage showing Hercules adapting to his new surroundings at the Sheriffmuir Inn and learning to wrestle with Andy, without killing him in the process.

Maggie Robin said: "For 25 years I lived with a bear. That teddy bear we all had as a child became my everyday reality.  As  farmers daughter and show jumper I never imagined that I would one day marry a champion wrestler Andy Robin and be mother to my very own real live bear."

"His name was Hercules...he was handsome and gentle and made me laugh. He never let me down, not once.  With him I shared a charmed life full of adventure love and laughter that to still to this day makes me smile."