SCENES across the Five Valleys will provide the backdrop for the animated adventures of a food-loving bear when the cartoon series airs on TV this month.

Voiced by legendary Dr Who actor Tom Baker, Max Bear is created by husband and wife team Bryan and Helena Panks from an animation studio at their Rodborough home.

A new 13-part series of the show - set in the idyllic village of Flanbury St Fur in the heart of the ‘Cakeswolds’ - will be launched on Channel 4 from Monday, March 28.

Several background scenes in episodes are modelled on photographs of Stroud town centre and Rodborough Fort, which Bryan took and painted over the top of.

Max’s return to the small screen comes 11 years after his last series in 2000 and three years after an acclaimed Christmas special in 2008, which followed on from a pilot special in 1998.

Flamboyant TV chef Keith Floyd originally lent his voice for the role before his death paved the way for Little Britain narrator Tom Baker’s deep, baritone vocals to take centre stage.

Featuring the voices of a host of other Stroud actors, the cartoon centres around the well-meaning Max Bear and his troupe of small town chums, including Kipper Driftwood, the village fishmonger, a family of melon-headed greengrocers and the apple of his eye April, who runs a flower shop.

His best friend and side-kick is Tubby Bottles, a milk-delivery bear who more often than not finds himself caught up in Max’s schemes, usually involving his insatiable appetite for all things edible.

"Max is the patriarch of the village," said Bryan, who animates the characters while Helena writes the dialogue.

"People go to him with their problems and he likes to think he can solve them but that is not always the case."

"He is dependable, soft and cuddly," added Helena.

"A bit like a friendly old uncle."

Bryan and Helena first dreamt up Max while running a T-shirt printing shop in Cheltenham, where they met some years earlier as fellow art students.

He first appeared in a series of children’s rag books, and later in a comic strip in a Japanese magazine, before being adapted for the small screen. Tom Baker recorded for the role at DB Studios in Stroud after immediately accepting an offer to voice the part.

"We really needed a trained actor to take over after Keith and I heard Tom on a radio advert and knew he was just right," said Bryan, who teaches animation at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham.

He added that they are also in talks with Channel 4 about the possibility of producing a series short cookery spin-offs, presented by Max Bear, to run after each episode.

"Max is just a normal person really, all the characters are normal and that’s what makes it so silly," said Helena, whose brother Matt Potter composed the show’s music.

"As Tom said, it is about a place where very small things have a very big meaning, like in any village.

"It is exciting to see Max and his friends back on the TV and we are looking forward to more people seeing them because they have existed in our minds for a long time."