Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Wombles poised for return to TV

The Wombles previously performed at Glastonbury

The Wombles are making a TV comeback with a high-tech makeover, it has been confirmed.

A new show based on the litter-pickers' adventures on Wimbledon Common, starts on Channel 5's pre-school section Milkshake in 2015, and will be made using computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Jessica Symons, head of Children's Channel 5, said: "This show was so loved by generations of children and the time is right for it to gain a whole new following. The stories and characters are as compelling as ever and we're excited to welcome The Wombles to Milkshake."

Musician Mike Batt - who put the characters into the charts in the 1970s - has helped bring them back to TV after he took a controlling interest in the rights to the fondly remembered creatures, who got into a series of adventures as they kept their home litter-free.

He said: "It will look more like stop motion but with great fur. We believe that there are audiences of new children who missed The Wombles the first time around and will be thrilled to see the brilliant high quality animation and new musical productions."

Animators are making 52 episodes which will be 11-minutes long.

Mike, who had his big break creating pop hits for the Wombles when they were a TV phenomenon almost 40 years ago, went on to have his own successful solo career as well as acting as mentor to Katie Melua, who he signed to his Dramatico label.

He also brought the Wombles' music career - which saw them score top five hits such as Remember You're A Womble and The Wombling Song - back to life in 2011 when they were a novelty addition to the bill at the Glastonbury festival.

The stories, written by Elizabeth Beresford, were first published in 1968 with characters such as sleep-loving Orinoco, inventor Tobermory and wise old Great Uncle Bulgaria.

The TV series launched in 1973 and was revived for a further run of episodes 16 years ago.

After writing music for the TV series, Mike launched his pop career by dressing in a Womble suit which his late mother Elaine made for him. He had to recruit a band and his mother - who died two months ago - had to run up extra costumes in a matter of hours when the group were booked for Top Of The Pops when The Wombling Song became an unexpected hit.

The books were brought back into print in 2010 and 2011.

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