Travels inspired by the Wombles

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Wombles from Kent - shock news (except they're not)

The Kent and Sussex Courier recently ran a story entitled: 'Revealed: Wombles are from the Weald'.  Apparently based on a conversation with Marcus Robertson, the son of Wombles creator Elisabeth Beresford, it mentions that Marcus' grandfather (and Elisabeth's father-in-law, as she explained it to me in 2009), who had a fruit farm in Kent, was the inspiration for the character of Great Uncle Bulgaria.  It claims: 'The Wombles may be synonymous with Wimbledon Common but the Weald was the real inspiration behind Orinoco and co.'

Reading the report further, it also states that Danger On the Old Pull'n Push, another TV series for children written by Elisabeth, was filmed in Kent.  Fair enough.  I wonder - being cynical - if the reporter or her editor decided that more people have heard of the Wombles than of Danger On the Old Pull'n Push - and adjusted the headline accordingly?

Because, as you and I know, while a Womble may have been inspired by a man of Kent, the implication that all Wombles are from Kent is, of course, totally misleading and wrong.  In the books, there are Wombles all over the world.  In terms of the characters' origins, the individual Wombles were named after places with family or other associations for Elisabeth Beresford. Hence, for instance, Madame Cholet was based on the author's mother and named after a French town  her daughter visited on a school trip, for instance. And Tobermory was based on the author's brother, who retired to the small town of that name in Scotland.

But then a headline in a Kent paper 'Wombles are from Kent as well as lots of other places' probably wouldn't be deemed to be quite so Kent-tastic, would it?