Interview: Mike Batt looks forward to 'digital Wombles' in new Channel 5 TV show
Wimbledon's very own Wombles are set to make a comeback in a new animated TV series.
The litter picking furry friends will once again be wombling free all over Wimbledon Common in a new 52 part series set to air on Channel 5 in autumn 2015.
A feature length CGI film is also in the pipeline as are plans to bring the Wombles back as a pop group for a renewed assault on the charts.
Speaking to the Wimbledon Guardian Mike Batt, who led the Wombles to pop stardom in the 1970s, credited the show's loveable characters created by Elizabeth Beresford for their continued success.
He said: "They were such strong as characters that they transcended the preschool market they were designed for.
"We all have an Uncle Bulgaria in our family or an Orinoco.
"They are characters we can identify with and kids love the look of them.
"I did the music for the first series and that song has become very much a part of society in the UK.
"An extraordinary amount of people seem to know all the words and that has given it longevity.
"We were a pop group with four gold albums and 52 songs and because it was such a pop phenomenon everyone saw it on Top of the Pops and as we were doing it for 22 years it has remained in people’s memories."
The new TV show will feature CGI Wombles and take in the sights from Wimbledon Common including the windmill. He said: "We will be bringing back lots of songs.
"We have one called ‘exercise is good for you (laziness is bad)’.
"There will be more musical numbers because we have 10 minutes to get our story across, not the five that we had in the 70s.
"The original series, because of the budget, had to be shot in one little clearing outside the burrow and in the burrow.
"This one is going to make use of various other landmarks.
"We are going to be using the whole area, for example around the windmill and Kingsmere."
On who may step forward to voice the characters Mr Batt said he would love Bernard Cribbins to be involved, the actor who voiced all the Wombles in the 70s.
He said: "I would love him to do Uncle Bulgaria or Tobermory.
"I would dearly love him to do it but I haven’t spoken to him yet.
"It’s amazing how many celebrities are Wombles fans.
"I'm not suggesting they are going to do the voices but I know Simon Pegg is a fan because he told me on Twitter, as is Dawn French."
A Wombles film is expected to precede the TV show and is set for release in spring 2015.
Who are The Wombles?
• The Wombles were created by Elisabeth Bereford in 1968 as a series of children’s novels.
• A stop motion animated series was commissioned by the BBC which ran between 1973 and 1975, and later 1998-1999.
• Mike Batt, songwriter and producer, wrote the series' theme tune and went on to produce a number of successful novelty singles by the Wombles in the 1970s.
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