The Wombles™

Remember you’re a womble, remember you’re a womble, remember-member-member what a womble-womble-womble you are.

Wombles, left to right Orinoco, Uncle Bulgaria, Madame CholetIf you haven’t just sung along while reading this then you need an education. That is not actually the theme tune, but was the pop song that got into the top twenty (and on Top of the Pops, and even the intermission act at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton). The Wombles™ had a whole load of hits and albums.

The theme tune for the TV show went something like this:

Underground overground wombling free, the Wombles of Wimbledon Common are we. Making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folks leave behind.

The title sequence is at the BBC Cult Classics site.

The Wombles™ lived underground on Wimbledon Common in London, and they recycled old junk. There was an educational message, as with a lot of children’s TV back then, this one was environmental. Anything that people threw away would be used by the Wombles™ in their home, which made for some great comedy. The Wombles™ themselves were a strange sort of teddy-bear crossed with a mole. Their home was a dug-out hole and everything in it could be identified as something leftover from human use.

Orinoco, my favourite Womble, reknown for eating lots of snacks and taking napsSome of the Wombles™ were named after places, though we didn’t really know it at the time. Even now, if I hear the word ‘Orinoco’ then I think of my favourite Womble™ and not of a river. Uncle Bulgaria was the leader and Madame Cholet was the French cook, and the only female. Yes, it was the usual sexist, racist nonsense that passed for kids’ TV, but it was also fabulous!

It was narrated by Bernard Cribbins who did all the voices as well as telling the story. The animation was stop-frame and the backgrounds were models. The stories were quite simple and always had a moral, which was usually that people are stupid for throwing things away and Bungo is even stupider for falling over Orinoco when he’s having forty winks.

The TV show was based on books by Elisabeth Beresford, first published in 1968, and The Wombles™ are still copyright to her. It was broadcast from 1973.

Wombles™ are still wheeled out to represent British Children’s TV and have recently been implicated in a campaign against American imports.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

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One Response

  1. […] were also The Wombles, which was all about picking up litter rather than not dropping it or refraining from using the […]

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