Tidy Bag

The Wombles interview

In early 2001, shortly after the release of I Wish It Could Be A Wombling Merry Christmas Every Day, I arranged for The Wombles to answer questions sent in by children on the AOL Kids website. Find out who spends the most time in the bathroom and how they planned to conquer the pop world…

Alderney, Bulgaria and Orinoco in the woods

How did you all meet?

There is a network of communication between all Wombles in the world, but we in Wimbledon have always lived together and so forming the pop group was easy.

What got you started in music?

Cairngorm MacWomble has always been such a terrible bagpipe player that Great Uncle Bulgaria encouraged the younger Wombles to learn instruments so that they could drown out the sound of the bagpipes.

Who is the best singer?

Orinoco - or at least he thinks he is!

What is your favourite song?

Common People.

Who is the person who writes all your songs?

Mike Batt, helped by Orinoco.

What does Remember You’re A Womble mean?

It means not to forget that you are a Womble.

Are you going to bring out another album?

We definitely plan another album, but it may not be ready this year. There may be a classical Womble album, featuring the three Womble tenors!

Who is Mike Batt’s favourite Womble?

Madame Cholet because she is a great cook and always gives him a nice big slice of bracken flan.

Do the Wombles ever have a birthday?

There is a song on the first Wombles album called Bungo’s Birthday, so the answer is yes. Also, Uncle Bulgaria is 325 years old so he must have had 325 birthdays.

How old are all the Wombles?

Because Wombles live so long, the young ones are anywhere from 5 to 40, and the older ones can live to 300 or 400 years old. Orinoco is probably about 30 (just a kid).

What do you like the most about being famous?

We get to ride around in posh cars and to appear on Top Of The Pops, but we can still hide away in our burrow to chill out.

Who spends the most time in the bathroom?

Tobermory. He takes his mug of tea and a newspaper, and nobody can get in for ages.

How long have you been on television?

The first TV show was in 1973, so you can work it out for yourself.

How do you sing so well?

Thanks for the compliment. We practise whenever we can, although particularly on litter-collecting duty.

What is your favourite instrument?

Wellington’s favourite instrument is a Gibson Flying V guitar and Uncle Bulgaria plays a Stradivarius violin, but unfortunately it was only made by Fred Stradivarius from Clapham in 1968.

Did you enjoy Christmas?

Yes - but it was hard work because of all the TV shows we were on!

Have you got a dance routine to your new song?

No, we leave it to everyone to wiggle about in their own special way.

How did you feel when you performed with Roy Wood?

We call non-Wombles civilians. Roy is the first civilian we have ever worked with, but he is very hairy and a bit tubby so he feels like one of us!

What are your favourite pop bands?

Motorhead and Steps.

The Wombles at the Queen Mother's 100 birthday parade

Have you met the Queen?

Yes, she was lovely.

If you had to choose your favourite football team would it be Wimbledon? Who is your favourite footballer?

We all support different teams. Wellington supports Wimbledon, Orinoco supports Arsenal and Great Uncle Bulgaria supports Chelsea. Alderney thinks Michael Owen is rather cute!

Orinoco, don’t you get warm with your Womble scarf and hat on all the time?

Yes, when I am indoors, and I also sleep in my hat and scarf (but then I sleep most of the day anyway). Outdoors, it is nice to be warm so I don’t mind.

Is Britain’s most respected environmentalist, Great Uncle Bulgaria, all right after reports in the newspaper about his home being flooded?

Great Uncle Bulgaria was a bit cross when the newspapers said he had been drowned in the floods. He thinks the record company just made it up as a publicity stunt but he thanks you for your concern and wants us to tell you that he is fine apart from a slight head cold at the moment.

Can Uncle Bulgaria still remember the days when he wasn’t behind the times?

Yes. And he reads The Times every day, so he is always behind it, but when he was a lad he used to read comics and nursery rhymes.

If you could live on any planet, which one would it be?

Mars because it is Orinoco’s favourite colour and matches his scarf.

If you could be any superhero, who would it be and why?

We all would like to be Superwomble, because he has muscles and he is good-looking!

Which piece of classical music is Minuetto Allegretto based on?

Mozart’s Jupiter symphony.

What stopped you from doing songs for so long?

Pure laziness, and we retired after such hard work recording all those hits.

Have any of you thought about quitting?

Wellington made a solo record in 1976 (Rainmaker was really a solo record by Wellington). Other Wombles who are not in the group, like Alderney and Stepney, have been thinking of forming a boy/girl band.

Are you real or are you people in costumes?

We are real! Sometimes people dress up as us, though.

We have a few of your old records, should we keep them and will they become valuable?

We hope you think they are valuable now! Whether they are worth money is a different thing!

Will The Wombles ever end, or is it going to last forever?

We would like it to last forever!