The Wombles

“Underground, overground, Wombling free…” The Wombles are iconic children's TV and novel characters who resemble short and furry raccoon/bear creatures. They live in burrows on Wimbledon Common and are pioneers of recycling, taking other people's leftover rubbish and transforming it into something new - their philosophy being, 'we make good use of bad rubbish.'

The inspiration behind these do-good characters is credited to Elizabeth Beresford, who was taking a walk one day on Wimbledon Common, when her child referred to it as Wombledon. This sparked an idea to create a series of novels based on eco-friendly creatures who recycled things. The first novel entitled 'The Wombles' was released in 1968, followed by four other novels and a short story collection.

In the early 1970s, when recycling started to gain prominence, the Wombles was made into a TV series. 30, five-minute episodes featured in 1973, followed by another 30 episodes in 1975, using stop motion animation. Actor Bernhard Cribbens narrated the popular series, with a catchy theme tune written by Mike Batt, who went on to have a string of hits in his 'The Wombles' pop group.

Although the Wombles feature as large bears in the novels, they are much smaller in the TV series. Each Womble has a name, which is inspired by a different country or region in the world. The names of the characters also have special significance to the creator, Elizabeth Beresford.

The leader of the Womble pack is Great Uncle Bulgaria, who is wise and stern, but kindly. Reaching an impressive 300 years old, he's also the oldest Womble.

Other characters include Tobermorey, who is often moody but a bit of a softy; Orinoco who is a touch lazy, but could prove himself a hero if needed; Bungo, pal of Orinco, is always enthusiastic for his next wombling mission, even if he's a bit bossy and overzealous at times. Then there's golf-mad Tomsk, forgetful Wellington and a French cook named Madame Cholet. Although these Wombles all live in burrows on Wimbledon Common, they often talk about their Womble cousins in other parts of the world.

Wombles often live long lives, averaging around 200 years, thanks to their healthy, herbivorous, outdoor lifestyle.

A Wombles film was released in 1997, entitled 'Wombling Free', and a new series hit TV screens during 1997-1998, when even more Womble characters were introduced. The Wombles also appeared in a number of comics.

The Wombles don't hold humans with particularly high regard, but they're happy to recycle the rubbish they leave behind (in a process called wombling) as can be seen throughout the episodes. In 'Speak Up', Tomsk gets up to his tricks by trying to attach a water pipe to a telephone pipe, whilst Orinoco gets stuck in a tyre in 'The Rocking Chair'. In 'Peep-Peep-Peep', Wellington attempts to make a telephone from string and tin, and in 'Spring Cleaning Time' a makeshift washing line made from elastic causes all sorts of havoc.

If you'd like to do your bit at recycling (or wombling), you can find a wide range of recycling storage and plastic waste bin products at Solent Plastics.

With environmentally conscious and responsible ethics, Solent Plastics is the type of business that would certainly get the thumbs up from the eco-friendly Wombles.

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