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Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 23:55 GMT
Wahooo! Simpsons celebrate 10 years
The Simpsons: Animation became primetime TV
The Simpsons, the cult cartoon that changed the face of TV, is celebrating its 10th birthday with a bash that includes getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Simpsons debuted on The Tracey Ullman Show
It's no small feat for a show which was supposedly created in 15 minutes by cartoonist Matt Groening to fill a short slot either side of the adverts on The Tracey Ullman Show in America.

Gaining its first regular season on 14 January, 1990, The Simpsons has earned close to $1bn (700m) for Rupert Murdoch's Fox Entertainment Group.

The show gave a huge boost to Fox in its critical early years - a debt readily acknowledged by Sandy Grushow, chairman of the Fox TV Entertainment Group.

"The bottom line is that The Simpsons is this network's flagship show. It's largely responsible for putting this network on the map,'' he added.

Creator Matt Groening: His own family inspired the Simpsons
In fact, The Simpsons and The X-Files are the two most profitable series in Fox's history.

It is currently being broadcast in 70 countries and has long been BBC Two's highest-rated programme, attracting more than four million viewers an episode.

The cartoon centres on the dysfunctional life of an American family in Springfield.

There's fat, stupid, but lovable father Homer - a bungling safety officer in the nuclear plant - long-suffering housewife Marge, their spikey-haired son Bart, gifted daughter Lisa and dummy-sucking baby Maggie.

The secret of its success lies in the fact that it appeals to all ages. Youngsters relate to wise-cracking Bart, while adults are attracted to slob Homer and his attitude to life.

Rupert Murdoch made a guest appearance in 1999
Spiced up with spoof episodes, a razor-sharp script and guest appearances from the likes of Paul McCartney and James Brown, it's going from strength to strength.

Phrases from Bart, including "Eat My Shorts" and "I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?", along with Homer's "Doh!", have become worldwide catchphrases.

Like most success stories, imitations such as South Park, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head have followed. And in 1991, Bart topped British charts with Do The Bartman.

The Simpsons continues to win awards - it scooped an Emmy in its first season - but perhaps the most high-brow endorsement came in 1998 when the American Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky, penned a tribute entitled My Favourite Show.

He said The Simpsons "penetrated to the nature of television itself".

However, The Simpsons has not been without its critics. Former President Bush got into the act when he famously commented that American families should be less like The Simpsons and more like The Waltons.

A cartoon Mr Bush later ended up brawling with Homer when he moved to Springfield.

The future

Groening has no plans to quit while he's on top and sees no reason why The Simpsons can't go on for another 230 episodes.

He recently said: "I don't control the tidal wave of The Simpsons' success, but I try to surf on it as best I can."

Executive producer Mike Scully adds: "I guess we'll get off the air when the American public asks us to.''

See also:

11 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Murdoch makes Simpsons debut
06 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Prof Hawking moves in with The Simpsons
01 Jun 98 | Entertainment
The world according to Bart Simpson
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