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Tuesday, February 17, 1998 Published at 17:45 GMT



UK

Underground, Overground - The Wombles get wired
image: [ Orinoco, one of the Common's original Wombles ]
Orinoco, one of the Common's original Wombles

As if further proof of a 1970s revival were needed, children's television favourite The Wombles are making comeback.

But the environmentally friendly residents of Wimbledon Common are unashamedly bringing themselves into the 1990s, with the Internet and Girl Power both playing a role.


[ image: Great Uncle Bulgaria, based on Elizabeth Bereford's father-in-law]
Great Uncle Bulgaria, based on Elizabeth Bereford's father-in-law
It is the 25th anniversary of the furry rodent-like creatures' debut on television, and they have a new series starting next year.

New members of the clan to join Orinoco, Wellington, Bongo, Tomsk and Great Uncle Bulgaria include Alderney. She shuns Womble convention by living up a tree instead of in the burrow, rides a skateboard, and wears a trendy baggy jumper.

She is joined by Stepney, a wide-boy Cockney.

The new Wombles communicate with other Wombles by Womfax, and travel about Wimbledon Common in the Womcopter.


[ image: Elizabeth Beresford, who has just met the new Wombles]
Elizabeth Beresford, who has just met the new Wombles
And those are not the only changes - the new series of the former BBC stalwart is to be shown on ITV, starting on March 4.

The Wombles' creator, Elizabeth Beresford, posed with characters from the new series in Wimbledon today. Mrs Beresford was visiting London to collect her MBE from Buckingham Palace.

WOMFACTS

  • The characters were inspired by Elizabeth Beresford's own family. Great Uncle Bulgaria was based on her father-in-law, and Tobermory was her brother.
  • The first Wombles book came out in 1968. The BBC decided to make a series after it proved popular on Jackanory. They first appeared on TV in 1973.
  • Mrs Beresford was paid 50 for each of the first 35 episodes. She then wrote another 30 for 75 a time. But - at the height of their success - the Wombles earned a reputed 17 million per year.
  • The Wombles have been translated into 40 languages. The last book - Wombling Free - came out in 1978.
  • The Wombles had eight Top Ten hits - all in 1974 and 1975. They include The Wombling Song and Remember You're A Womble.
  • The TV Wombles are just nine inches tall.
  • There were complaints from local Wimbledon residents that the Wombles actually encouraged children to drop litter on the Common.
  • Wombles cannot be seen by humans.







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