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 Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 15:36 GMT
Simpsons to take TV crown
The Simpsons
The Simpsons: America's top cartoon family

The American cartoon, The Simpsons, is set to become the longest-running comedy in United States television history.

Fox Entertainment has announced a deal to renew the series for two more seasons, taking it into the summer of 2005.

Despite more than 14 years on the air, The Simpsons remains the most popular Sunday night TV programme in America. It has been nominated again this year for a Golden Globe award for best comedy.

LONG-RUNNING US TV COMEDIES
16 years: The Simpsons
14 years: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
11 years: M*A*S*H
The show, which sends up the average American nuclear family with their larger-than-life cartoon counterparts, features dad Homer, his big-haired wife Marge, their mischievous son Bart, his saxophone playing sister Lisa, and baby Maggie.

Credited with re-defining the TV sitcom during the 1990s, the cartoon subverts the mild-mannered conventions of the family comedy while taking a satirical swipe at American culture.

Sitcom superstardom

Fox has commissioned two more seasons of the series, pushing The Simpsons past The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet which ran from 1952 to 1966 as the all-time longest running situation comedy in the US.

The new contract ensures The Simpsons will enter the annals of sitcom superstardom surpassing even The Flintstones as the world's favourite cartoon family.

Television historian Tim Brooks says the show avoids the pitfalls of many comedies by having a cartoon cast who never age.

However, The Simpsons still has to beat Gunsmoke which ran on US television channel, CBS, for 20 years to become the longest-running scripted show ever on US prime time.

See also:

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