Entertainment & Arts

Homer to take fans' questions in Simpsons live episode

Homer Simpson Image copyright Ethan Miller
Image caption Homer has been voiced by Dan Castellaneta since 1989

An episode of the Simpsons broadcast in May is set to feature a short live section.

The three-minute segment will see Homer Simpson taking questions from fans.

The scene, made possible by motion capture technology, will make up the final part of a full-length episode broadcast on 15 May.

Producer Al Jean said: "As far as I know, this is the first time it's been done by any animated show."

Jean said Homer's voice - provided by Dan Castellaneta - and motions will be depicted in an animated scene talking about things he "could only be saying live on that day".

His comments suggest Homer will make reference to news events from that day to prove the segment is not pre-recorded.

The live section will work with the theme of the wider episode - which explores improvised comedy.

Jean described Castellaneta - who has voiced Homer since the show began - as a "great improviser".

Fans have been encouraged to think of questions for Homer, which they can then submit via Twitter the week before the broadcast.

The news about the episode comes at a time when broadcast networks are struggling to find ways to retain live audiences.

Fewer TV fans now watch shows in their allotted timeslot, opting instead for catch-up or on demand services such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

It's hoped live episodes will prompt viewers to watch programmes in real time - following the lead of Grease Live which was a ratings success for the Fox network.

A potential boost in viewing figures for The Simpsons would come at a crucial time when network bosses are making decisions about advertisements and schedules for the following year.

The Simpsons was first broadcast in 1989 and has since become the longest-running animated programme in American history.

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