The Wombles: Cute Rodents That Saved Wimbledon

The Wombles
Wombling in Wimbledon.

Ah, The Wombles. These pointy-nosed sorts live in Wimbledon of London and look a bit like moles. They also have legendary status!

What Are The Wombles?

Wombling rodents who live in Wimbledon Common and clean up lots of rubbish. They were in line with the Swinging Sixties counterculture hipping movement of environmentalism.

It was series of books for kids first from 1968, and then a famous TV stop animation show, from Elisabeth Beresford (1926-2010).

There were six books in total, the last (The Wombles Go Round the World) was in 1976. At the same time, the BBC commissioned the TV show. It ran from 1973-1976.

It was a big hit for the Beeb. Alongside The Magic Roundabout, it’s one of those much cherished shows here.

And in 1996 a Canadian/British revival appeared due to the enduring popularity of The Wombles. 52 new episodes aired between 1997 and 1998.

For the purposes of this review, we’re remembering the original show from the ’70s. As that’s the one we watched as kids back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Bernard Cribbins was responsible for narration and all the character voices. The cast of Wombles includes:

  • Great Uncle Bulgaria
  • Tobermory
  • Madame Cholet
  • Orinoco
  • Wellington
  • Tomsk
  • Bungo

This lot amble about cleaning up trash left about the place by humans. Episodes revolve around that and are around five minutes long (stop motion animation being rather time-consuming).

Along with the likes of Pingu, shows like this really can define childhoods. It wasn’t our number one favourite, but we did enjoy its quaint and gentle approach.

The Wombles are rather likeable, docile beasts and a lot of care and attention went into the production of the show.

And that’s why it remains so legendary for several generations of folks.

For us, we also got to enjoy references to it in more anarchic shows. Such as here in Bottom from 1995.

Characters Richie and Eddie go camping in Wimbledon Common. And the lovable dipsomaniac Eddie thinks they’re real.

Later in the episode he awakes in a tent and roars, “Wombles!” That’s favourite line of ours that’s stuck with us over the years.

The Wombles Rock On

There was also the Wombling Song to go with all this, which was in the style of a Beatles record. Mike Batt wrote the track. Smashing!

This lot actually went on to become a band—The Wombles. Batt oversaw the novelty pop group.

It was pretty popular, too, even standing in as the interval act during the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.

It still occasionally performs to this day. And, in fact, played at Glastonbury festival back in 2011. Wombles!

However, Batt (now 71) isn’t always happy with his association with The Wombles. He already had international success as a song writer before the band.

He wrote Bright Eyes for the Watership Down film (performed by Simon & Garfunkel). He’s also been a conductor for London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, and Stuttgart Philharmonic.

So, yeah, next time you think of The Wombles pop song remember its creator is multi-talented.

6 comments

  1. Bought the singles as a nipper – played them to death – so much so that I can even remember the b-sides.

    Then, at the height of their fame, Orinoco came to open a local supermarket. He’s bigger in real life, I remember thinking to mesen.

    Stuck my hand out as he approached, and the bastard ignored me.

    I stuck in a transfer request, and went to Paddington FC…

    Liked by 1 person

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