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The BBC's Tom Brook speaks to Nancy Cartwright
"I get to burp and fart, how cool is that?"
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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 18:45 GMT
Bart's voice tells all
The Simpsons
The Simpsons have marched through 250 episodes

By BBC News Online entertainment correspondent Tom Brook in New York.

He is the definitive dysfunctional schoolboy. A cartoon brat with more mouth than brains.

But his boisterous banter is supplied by a woman.

In a new book, voice-over artist Nancy Cartwright tells of her years as one of America's most famous cartoon caracters, and explains why there is a little bit of Bart in all of us.

Nancy Cartwright
Nancy Cartwright initially planned to read for Lisa's role
My Life As A 10-Year Old Boy details Nancy Cartwright's career as a voice-over artist and her experiences behind the scenes on The Simpsons.

The actress definitely has a strong affinity for the bratty character she gives voice to.

"Bart is a cultural icon, because he is the little boy in all of us that gets away with it," she says.

Her book is being published just as The Simpsons celebrates its 250th episode. The animated Simpsons characters, created by Matt Groening more than twelve years ago, have grown to become celebrated figures with a following around the world.

For their fans, The Simpsons and their neighbours represent an endearing portrait of dysfunctional American family life. But many teachers, parents and community leaders believe they set a bad example.

I've got two kids - they are not being raised by Bart Simpson!

Nancy Cartwright
Not surprisingly Cartwright disagrees. She says the public who watch the show can "relate to something about it, whether it's the family, or the neighbours, but there is something about this dysfunctional family that rings true, that we're not perfect".

"We have these flaws and yet underneath it all we all care for each other," she says.

Cartwright initially went to audition for the role of Lisa Simpson but was far more taken with the character of her brother Bart.

She asked Matt Groening if she could read for the part of Bart. He accepted and was so impressed that he offered her the job on the spot.

"Immediately I did it at the audition, bam, I nailed it, and that was it," she recalls.

"I never forgot it. I totally owned it and that was mine."

Although Bart's lines are written by a team of scribes, Cartwright has used her voice-over skills to give Bart a distinct personality.

"It is actually fairly easy as an actor to take it and turn it and make it into my own," she explains.

She gives the production team a lot of material to work with - usually recording about five or six takes of each line.

The Simpsons
"There's something about this dysfunctional family that rings true"
"I just give it my best shot and I try to make each take just a little bit different than the one before, so that they have options."

Physically, Cartwright is not what you would imagine. It is hard to believe that this forty-something woman gives voice to all the irreverent remarks that come out of Bart's mouth.

She says many people are very taken aback when they learn she is the voice of Bart because she is such an ordinary looking, all-American mother.

"I think I am pretty normal, I'm a mom, I've got two kids," she says, adding: "They are not being raised by Bart Simpson!"

The Simpsons has survived because it is a clever mix of sharp satire and adolescent humour that appeals to both adults and children.

Nancy Cartwright is a highly talented voice-over artist, but it is more than technical dexterity that has enabled her to make Bart such an enduring success.

Her book makes clear she has a strong connection with the 10-year old boy she portrays.

She admits: "There is a little bit of Bart in me."

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See also:

14 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Simpsons sell out in Edinburgh
22 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Homer and Bart head for Britain
14 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Death hits The Simpsons
13 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Wahooo! Simpsons celebrate 10 years
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