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Western Animation / The Wombles

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The Wombles in their burrow. From left to right: Madame Cholet, Tomsk, Wellington, Tobermory, Orinoco, Bungo, and Great Uncle Bulgaria (just offscreen)

This British children's show, based on a series of books by Elisabeth Beresford, followed a group of furry rodent-like critters from Wimbledon Common, who spend their days cleaning up litter that they find. The group included Great Uncle Bulgaria, Tobermory, Orinoco, Bungo, Tomsk, Wellington, and Madame Cholet, each one had their own quirks and dressed a certain way.

The original series ran from 1973-75 over two seasons and spun off a live-action film, Wombling Free, in 1978.A new series was made in the 1990s, introducing new characters such as Alderney and Stepney.

Not to be confused with Soviet Womble, a gamer and self-proclaimed "Youtube Phenomenon," though this is where he gets his name and avatar.


This show features examples of:

  • Apologises a Lot: Wellington, who says 'sorry' a lot mostly because he is often thinking and doesn't hear what people say the first time.
  • Art Evolution: The illustrations to the first book shows the Wombles as resembling teddy bears; in the later books they look like the puppets.
  • Big Eater: Orinoco. Overlaps with The Slacker.
  • Brave Scot: MacWomble the Terrible, leader of one of the Womble Clans of Scotland.
  • Canon Immigrant: The '90s TV series introduced Stepney (East End Womble) and Obidos (Brazilian Womble). (But not Alderney, who was in the books, but wasn't in the '70s series.)
  • Christmas Songs: "Wombling Merry Christmas".
  • Cool Old Guy: Great Uncle Bulgaria.
  • Cute Bookworm: Wellington, who spends much of his time in the Library forgetting to come to meals.
  • Fake Band: Mike Batt, the writer of the theme tune had a fair amount of success with the "The Wombles" as a band in The '70s. The band played the Glastonbury Festival in 2011.
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  • Green Aesop: Interestingly this was before recycling became popular. The Wombles books were written at the time when the UK was undergoing a period of modernising from the post war period into the modern consumer society it is now, and there was a lot of discarded furniture and litter lying around. People thought nothing of dumping obsolete brass and cast iron bedspreads onto public lands for the local authority council to deal with, as example. The series was essentially a plea for people to stop doing that and find something useful to do instead.
  • I Am Big Boned: "I'm not the fattest, I'm just cuddly!" We believe you, Orinoco, but millions wouldn't.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tobermory can be very condescending towards the younger Wombles, but when they accomplish something, he'll always give credit where it's due.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Bungo — despite being the youngest he thinks he knows everything.
  • Lovable Jock: Tomsk, who's very keen on keeping fit. He tries to talk Orinoco into doing exercise, without much success.
  • The Masquerade:
  • The Movie: Wombling Free.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Only Madame Cholet appeared in the original series. Averted in the books and second series which feature the female womble Alderney. And Affirmative Action Girl in the 1990s version, which also included Alderney and added a new female character, Shansi.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Ness the Water Womble. Yes, the Loch Ness Monster is actually a Womble. Mystery solved.
  • Theme Naming: The Wombles are named after places found on an old map.

Alternative Title(s): Wombling Free