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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 1977. A new series was made in the 1990s, bringing in Alderney, a book character who wasn't in the 1970s series, and introducing more diverse characters such as Shansi 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.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Yeti are actually a gargantuan Womble subspecies that inhabit the mountains of Tibet.
  • Brave Scot: MacWomble the Terrible, leader of one of the Womble Clans of Scotland.
  • Canon Foreigner: The '90s TV series introduced Stepney (East End Womble) and Obidos (Brazilian Womble), who weren't in the books. Alderney 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.
  • Extreme Omnivore: One of the things that makes recycling so easy for Wombles is that they are capable of digesting just about any bit of organic refuse that they can forage. Thus, their regular diet includes a lot of plants, nuts, fungi and leftovers that humans simply couldn't eat, such as nettles, banana peels, and acorns
  • 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.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Tobermory.
  • 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.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The books are not shy about calling out just how much absolute rubbish humans leave around, and assert that without the countless Wombles working all over the world, humanity would be living in a rubbish heap.
  • 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: Integral to all iterations of the series is the idea that the Wombles avoid all contact with humans as much as possible.
  • The Movie: Wombling Free.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Tobermory and Wellington frequently make these, using rubbish, of course.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Only Madame Cholet appeared in the original series. Averted in the books, where there are mentions of female wombles regularly, including mainstay character Miss Adelaide — the fierce and highly respected teacher of the Womblegarten and manager of the burrow's young wombles. The second series added the Affirmative Action Girl Alderney, and the 1990s version retained Alderney and added a new female character, Shansi.
  • Supreme Chef: Madame Cholet, who is described in The Movie as "the most famous Womble cook in the whole world."
  • 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.
  • Wainscot Society: Well, obviously.

Alternative Title(s): Wombling Free