Mike Batt radio interview with Aled Jones

Aled Jones, BBC Radio Wales Mike Batt was interviewed on Aled Jones’ popular Sunday musical chat show on BBC Radio Wales.

The one-hour radio show, broadcast on 16 May, is available to listen again on the BBC iPlayer, or to download as a podcast that you can listen to on your computer or MP3 player, for a week until 23 May.

On the show, the guests choose five pieces of music that they think the presenter will like, and he does the same thing to them. Aled Jones said he used to love growing up with The Wombles, and one of his song choices was The Myths And Legends Of King Merton Womble And His Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, which Mike Batt often names as his favourite Wombles song – “a spoof on Rick Wakeman’s two big albums, King Arthur and Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”.

Mike Batt explained how he first got involved with The Wombles:

“The agent who got me my work as a jingles writer said there’s this thing called The Wombles, they’re making a book into a TV series, and they’d like to talk to you. And when I went to see the people I said, ‘instead of a tune, why don’t you have a song and then I can write some lyrics, which will get people interested in what the characters are’.

“They offered me a couple of hundred quid, which in those days was quite a lot of money, and even though I desperately needed two hundred quid, I just said, ‘if you give me the character rights – not for everything, just for the entertainment side of things – then I’ll waive my fee’. And they thought, well, that can’t be worth very much, we’re only making a little puppet television animation thing. So I got that, and that enabled me to form the Womble group eventually, and of course we went and had all those hits – nine hits, I think it was.

“My mum made all the costumes all by herself in those days – except the night before Top Of The Pops. There was only one costume, which she had made for me, and I used to just wear it all the time to try and get attention. I used to literally walk through shopping centres with a notice board saying ‘buy a Womble record today’, dressed in my Womble costume. That’s how desperate I was to get this thing to work! And then the record company people rang up and said is there a group? And I said ‘yeah, course there is’… which there wasn’t, just me and a couple of session men. And they said well you’re on Top Of The Pops the day after tomorrow.

“I rang my mum and said, ‘mum, do you think you could make me another three Womble costumes?’ And I rang some mates and I’ve got two brothers and a sister, and my dad was there, and we all went round there and we were sewing Womble costumes all night. And then the next day we were walking into the BBC TV centre to be The Wombles. I mean we just thought it was a hoot, it was fantastic! And of course it was great because I’d suddenly struck gold, frankly.”

Mike Batt also confirmed that The Wombles are not playing Glastonbury Festival this year – though he said “there just might be a chance that possibly next year”, as there’s been so much interest following the recent rumours. “I don’t know where that rumour came from, I think there was some talk about it between agents or something, but it never, ever came to fruition, and it’s certainly nothing we put forward. But since the rumour began, everyone’s been saying oh my god, The Wombles are gonna be on at Glastonbury, so funnily enough it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”