Womblepedia! They're back... and set to challenge 'X Factor' for festive No 1 slot
David Randall and Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill, in true Womble style, gather the facts for an A to Z of the Wimbledon litter pickers
David Randall is a British journalist and author of The Universal Journalist, a textbook on journalism.
A C Grayling
A. C. Grayling is an English philosopher and founder of independent undergraduate college, New College of the Humanities. He is the author of several books including The Refutation of Scepticism (1985), The Meaning of Things (2001) and The Good Book (2011).
Sunday 04 December 2011
Ally McCoist Scottish football manager and savant who, when asked on A Question of Sport who his favourite Wimbledon hero was, replied: "Great Uncle Bulgaria". Sometimes attributed to his rival captain on the show, John Parrott.
Batt, Mike Writer and performer of the Wombles theme, and subsequent songs, the ostensible highlight of a career in music that has included writing and/or producing Steeleye Span's All Around My Hat album, Art Garfunkel's No 1 hit "Bright Eyes", from the film of Watership Down, and the theme song for the 1998 German World Cup squad.
Conservative Party Political cause supported by Mike Batt, and for whom he composed its 2001 election theme song "Heartland". The Tories went down to a huge defeat under William Hague, who, contrary to press speculation, was not a Womble.
Day-Lewis, Cecil One of two famous godfathers of Wombles creator Elisabeth Beresford. The other was Walter de la Mare. Her father was a writer whose circle also included George Bernard Shaw and D H Lawrence.
Elisabeth Beresford Writer for, among other things, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, who created the Wombles on a Boxing Day walk with her children Marcus and Kate on Wimbledon Common. She was married to, and later divorced, the BBC tennis commentator Max Robertson.
Fees Not as big as you'd think. After making an appearance on Jackanory, the Wombles were made into 35 five-minute films, for which their creator was paid just £50 each. Yet, at their peak, the total Wombles earnings were reputed to be around £17m a year. Ms Beresford and her then-husband, Max Robertson, lost large sums in the Lloyd's Names fiasco in 1982, and she was far from well-off in later years.
Glastonbury Rock guitarist and early Sex Pistols producer Chris Spedding joined The Wombles on stage at Glasto this year.
Haydon Mascot of AFC Wimbledon, named by Elisabeth Beresford after Haydons Road, the nearest station to the club's old Plough Lane ground.
Ivor Wood Animator of The Wombles television series, and responsible for their appearance. He also made Postman Pat, and, in Paris, Le Manège Enchanté, the French series which became The Magic Roundabout in English.
Jimmy Savile Recently late disc jockey, and charitable but strange character, who once fronted an entire Top of the Pops in a Womble costume – a considerable improvement on his usual shell suit.
Kate Robertson Daughter of Elisabeth Beresford, whose mispronunciation of Wimbledon Common as "Wombledon" planted the seed of the idea that became the characters and their books.
Litter What the Wombles pick up, and what many children used to deliberately drop on Wimbledon Common in the hope of drawing the furry recyclers out from their burrows.
Madame Cholet Wombles' in-house chef, based on Elisabeth Beresford's mother and named after the town of Cholet in France. Also the inspiration for a "Madame Cholet's", London-based artisan event catering company.
Novelty songs Genre into which all the Wombles' records fit. Once ubiquitous, they are now scarce. Leading examples include: "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa" by Napoleon XIV (real name Jerry Samuels), Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-Ling", Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face", and anything by the Chipmunks.
Orinoco All the Womble characters chose their names from Great Uncle Bulgaria's atlas, some deliberately, others by chance. This lethargic Womble was based on Elisabeth Beresford's then-teenage son, Marcus.
Political implications Not obvious, but David Cameron did once describe the Wombles and their litter clearing as an example of society in action. He has since been told that the Wombles are, in fact, fictional.
Queen Crowned head whose ceremonial opening (with France's President Mitterrand) of the Channel Tunnel in 1994 was accompanied by its official anthem, "When Flags Fly Together", composed by Mike Batt. Sadly, he did not include his most famous lyric: "Underground, overground...."
Remember You're a Womble 1974 hit album whose title song includes the ground-breaking lyrics: "Remember, remember, remember, remember, remember, remember, remember (member, member, member)". Playing violin on the track was Jack Rothstein, whose plaintive strings can also be heard on The Beatles "I Am the Walrus".
Stepney Eastender with dreadlocks, Stepney appeared in the 1998 series when he visited from his home in the Thames burrow.
Tobermoray & Tomsk The former is an engineer and inventor, the latter a keen sportsman with a low IQ who loves golf and is usually seen wearing a tanktop. Named after the capital of the Isle of Mull and a Russian town, respectively.
Uncle Bulgaria Wombles' tartan-clad leader who likes nothing better than reading newspapers. He is aged about 300 – a remarkable longevity even for Wombles, whose normal life expectancy is around 200.
Vicar of Dibley Dawn French's character in this series said: "I once tried to go on Mastermind, but they didn't like my special subject. Apparently, there just aren't enough questions about the Wombles."
Wellington Named after school attended by the author's nephew, whose uniform he also wears – not, then, based on the famous general rubber footwear, or fancy way of serving beef. Wombles are, of course, vegetarian.
Xmas No 1 The re-released "Wombling Merry Christmas" is up against the likes of this year's X Factor winner, a cover of "Last Christmas" by the cast of The Only Way is Essex, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber and a posthumous single by Amy Winehouse.
Youngest Womble, Bungo Bungo chose his name from Great Uncle Bulgaria's Atlas by closing his eyes and pointing. In the Seventies, he wore a twill cap, which he swapped for a backwards golf cap in the Nineties.
Zebedee Not a Womble, but a Magic Roundabouter who was, apparently, created from a giant pea found in the French studios, and repainted.
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