In their 1970s heyday they topped the charts with popular sing-a-long anthems like “Remember You’re a Womble” and “Wombling Merry Christmas.”
But after the hits dried up and the BBC stopped running the fly-on-the-wall stop motion docu-drama animation series that made them famous it was a different story for the long nosed furry fluff balls dedicated to their life’s work of keeping Wimbledon Common free of rubbish.
“It wasn’t just our life’s work, our BBC salaries were rubbish too, – literally, bags of it, and we had to them fill them ourselves” complains former band member Wellington looking disdainfully at the recently published list of the BBC’s top earners.
“£2 million a year for that ginger mong, Chris Evans? – I bet he doesn’t even pick up his own litter never mind anyone else’s,” he moans glancing round the hole in the ground on Wimbledon Common he calls home.
It’s a far call from the group’s heyday when rocketing record sales allowed them to move from their original extensive burrow complex on the common to a sizeable detached house in Kingston.
Wellington explains that problems that started when the income dried up were made worse with the death of Great Uncle Bulgaria who, despite acting as the group’s accountant, had neglected to register them as a company in the channel islands, channel their earnings through a front company in Malta, do a double Irish, lease out Madame Cholet for parties, or indeed even file a tax return.
“It became apparent that not only were we broke, we were also massively in debt,” says Wellington explaining that they couldn’t even afford a proper burial for Bulgaria.
“He went in the compost bin with the garden waste.”
Tensions over how to deal with the debts coupled with long running musical differences caused the group to fracture.
“Tobermory went back to Scotland, Madame Cholet returned to France, and Miss Adelaide I think returned to Australia,” he said explaining that he tried to keep the four core younger members together but that proved a fruitless exercise.
“Tomsk converted to Islam and went to live in the middle of the Sinai Desert. Bungo I see from time to time – he has two kids, a job with the parks department and has been battling depression, but the last I heard from Orinoco was over a decade ago when he was living in a crack den in Kings Cross,” he said explaining that the famously rotund Womble had found the fall from fame particularly difficult to handle.
“We’re one shot character actors, it’s not like we can adapt to new roles,” he said explaining had had considered applying to be the new Dr Who.”
They’ll take a woman, but would they consider a three foot high ball of silver fur with a nose like Concorde? Would they hell…” he sighed.