Dramatico Entertainment has formally confirmed its plans for the future of The Wombles, announcing that the brand new TV series will be broadcast on Channel 5′s early morning preschool Milkshake! show in 2015.
News of the ‘comeback’ first hit the headlines a few weeks ago, when the Press Association picked up the story after Mike Batt told fans about his plans on his personal blog.
Jessica Symons, head of Children’s Channel 5, said: “This show was so loved by generations of children and the time is right for it to gain a whole new following. The stories and characters are as compelling as ever and we’re excited to welcome The Wombles to Milkshake.”
Dramatico Animation Ltd will be creating 52 new 11-minute episodes. Mike Batt confirmed that the new TV series will be CGI, saying: “It will look more like stop motion but with great fur.”
He told The Times: “A lot of us have the old stop-motion in our hearts from childhood, but with The Wombles it was not the jerky movements, it was the design and the wonderful characters. They will be like stop-motion puppets to look at, but will move more smoothly.
“The old ones were lovely, but were very slow and of their time in terms of their pacing. They were even ahead of their time in terms of their green and recycling credentials. We want to keep it parochial and cuddly and yet inject some action and fun.”
Test footage will be shown this October at MIPJunior in Cannes, the international showcase for children’s programmes.
The ‘multi-platform relaunch’ will also include a full-length film combining live action with CGI Wombles, an online ‘Wombles World interactive experience’ created by kids’ games producer Dubit, a Wombles pop group tour ‘to be announced’, and a new range of character merchandise. The new episodes will have a ‘higher music content’ than in the 1970s.
Co-executive producer Genevieve Dexter said: “Many people have attempted to bring back classic properties, and failed. What sets The Wombles apart is that they were ahead of their time, as the first recycling enthusiasts and with the extra dimension of the band which brought them to a family arena. The rights have now been regrouped and adapted for 21st century tastes and media consumption, although the relevance of the original themes holds strong and the messages therein are perhaps even more widely accepted today.”
In an interview with animation magazine Skwigly, Genevieve shared a few more details. The characters will be the original seven with the addition of Alderney. The episodes will have dialogue, and are planned for spring/summer 2015. And “of course” they’ll be keeping Mike Batt’s original theme tune.
- C21 Media: Wombles find new UK home
- Digital Spy: The Wombles return to TV on Channel 5 in 2015
- CultBox: ‘The Wombles’ to return on Channel 5 in 2015
- Radio Times: The Wombles to return with brand new series on Channel 5
- TBI Vision: Genevieve Dexter attached to Channel 5 Wombles remake
- The Guardian: The Wombles to return on Channel 5
- The Telegraph: The Wombles are coming back to TV
- Music Week: Dramatico prepares Wombles re-launch after bringing rights under one roof
- The Independent: Remember the Wombles? TV favourites poised to return on Channel 5
- MSN: Wombles poised for return to TV
- The Mirror / Daily Record: The Wombles to make TV comeback on Channel 5, animated with CGI
- BBC News: Wombles set for Channel 5 return
- imediamonkey: ‘The Wombles’ returning in 2015, on Channel 5
- Heat: The Wombles are wombling their way back onto a telly-box near you. For real.
- Daily Star: Underground, overground… The Wombles return to TV!
- Wales Online: Return of The Wombles: The best and worst children’s TV remakes of all time
- World Screen: The Wombles Being Revamped for Channel 5
- Metro: The Wombles to make small screen comeback in 2015 on Channel 5
- Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM): Children To Learn About Litter Prevention As The Wombles Return To TV
- Daily Express: The Wombles will return to television after a CGI makeover
- Stereoboard: The Wombles Set To Go Out On Tour?
- Kidscreen: Wombles back in UK with a new plan
- The Mirror: The Wombles digital reboot will be an unwatchable atrocity, just like these terrible CGI kids’ show remakes
- Animation Magazine: Channel 5 Welcomes Back the Wombles
- The Independent: Page 3 Profile:The Wombles, furry litter pickers
- The Times: Recycling Wimbledon’s Wombles (requires subscription)
- First News: The Wombles set for new TV show
- Licensing.biz: The Wombles return with film, online world and new merchandise
- Daily Mail: Wombling into the 21st century: 70s favourites set for TV return in 2015 after CGI revamp
- CMU: Batt plans various Womble ventures having secured rights beyond the music
- Contactmusic: The Wombles Are Coming Back, In A Digital Generation Make-Over
- License! Global: Dramatico to Re-Launch Wombles
- Animation World Network: The UK’s Channel 5 Welcomes Back Wombles
- BBC News: Wombles composer praises TV comeback
- Skwigly: Wombles Pick Up A New Series: An interview With Co-Producer Genevieve Dexter
- WorldTVPC: Channel 5 Confirms CGI Return Of Puppet Classic The Wombles
- BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast: Mike Batt interview – the return of the Wombles
- BBC Surrey: Mike Batt interview with James Cannon (2:38:20 – listen until 5 September)
- BBC Radio Berkshire: Mike Batt interview with Tony Blackburn (1:47:30 – listen until 5 September)
- BBC Radio Bristol: Animator Louis Jones interview with Jonathan Ray (2:18:36 – listen until 5 September)
There were hundreds of reactions on Twitter – most people were pleased that The Wombles would be coming back, but wary of the new CGI production and keen for Bernard Cribbins to be involved again. See the most interesting comments below.
Mike Batt said he would love Bernard Cribbins to work on the new episodes. He told The Times: “I haven’t asked him yet, but he did a brilliant job in the Seventies and I would love it if he would grace us with his presence.” Genevieve Dexter said to Skwigly: “We would love him to be Great Uncle Bulgaria when the time comes.”