Entertainment & Arts

Wombles set for Channel 5 return

The new-look Wombles
Image caption The new-look Wombles: (l to r) Bungo, Wellington, Alderney, Madame Cholet, Great Uncle Bulgaria, Tobermory, Tomsk and Orinoco

The Wombles of Wimbledon Common are to return to the small screen, in a new Channel 5 series made using computer-generated animation.

Based on the adventures of the loveable London litter-pickers, the 52, 11-minute shorts will air on the channel's pre-school segment Milkshake in 2015.

"The time is right for it to gain a whole new following," said Jessica Symons, Channel 5's head of children's.

Narrated by Bernard Cribbins, the original series first aired in 1973.

Uncle Bulgaria, Orinoco and the rest of Elisabeth Beresford's characters were revived on ITV in 1998.

"There are audiences of new children and international audiences who missed The Wombles the first time around," said Mike Batt, who gave the characters chart success in the 1970s.

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Media captionMusician Mike Batt: "It's the best fur on CGI"
Image caption Like many of the Wombles, Orinoco is named after a geographical place

The 64-year-old musician and producer owns a controlling interest in the rights to the Wombles through his Dramatico recording and entertainment label.

According to Batt, the new series will resemble the stop motion animation of the original series with the added bonus of "great fur".

The first Wombles book - inspired by Beresford's young daughter mispronouncing "Wimbledon" as "Wombledon" - was published in 1968.

"What sets The Wombles apart is that they were ahead of their time, as the first recycling enthusiasts." said Genevieve Dexter, whose Serious Lunch company is co-producing the new series.

"The relevance of the original themes holds strong and the messages therein are perhaps even more widely accepted today."

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