[dropcap]W[/dropcap]imbledon Common will be litter-free once again, as the Wombles are on the brink of a comeback to our TV screens, with a brand-new movie thrown in for good measure.
The long-awaited return of Great Uncle Bulgaria, Orinoco and company is the master plan of Mike Batt, writer of the many chart singles enjoyed by the orange eco-warriors back in the 1970s. Batt has stayed on in the music business, but since those heady days his own company, Dramatico, has gained a majority share in Wombles Copyright Holdings Ltd.
Previously, it was a straight 50/50 with the estate of the late Elizabeth Beresford, creator and author of the wonderful stories and characters. Batt is, however, adamant that the new venture will remain very much old school: “We can assure the Beresford estate that we shall protect and look after the quality and integrity of the characters as we always have done.”
The prolific songwriter is also in no doubt that the cone-snouted critters would appeal to the uninitiated: “We think there are audiences of new children and international audiences who missed the Wombles the first time around, who will be thrilled to see the brilliant high quality animations and new musical productions we shall be mounting.”
The film and 26-part TV series will be accompanied by an interactive online Wombles World experience. All of this will have a hard act to follow though, as Beresford’s popular novels spawned huge success on film and TV, followed by a pop career that ensured the Wombles’ cult status. However, if the characters do remain, as Batt puts it, “timeless, funny and wonderful”, we could be in for something very special.
And who knows, maybe even Bernard Cribbins, narrator of the original series, will make a surprise return!