In 1992, London's Wimbledon Common became notorious for the murder of 23 year old Rachel Nickell, a case which was resolved only in 2008 when sexual psychopath Robert Napper admitted the killing, removing forever the cloud of suspicion that had hung over local man Colin Stagg, who spent over a year on remand charged with the crime before a judge threw out the so-called case without even swearing in a jury.
Long before that, creatures far less sinister and infinitely more alluring than Robert Napper were seen scampering about the Common, but only by children of a certain age.
The Wombles were created by children's author Elizabeth Beresford, appearing in a series of books from 1968. An unlikely precursor to the Green Movement, they live in burrows and as in the song "trundle away" rubbish less environmentally conscious ordinary folk leave behind. Some of them were based on the author's family members.
It was inevitable that such cute characters would find their way onto either the big screen or TV, and when a gifted but struggling young songwriter was approached to write the theme song for the series, Mike Batt made probably the most astute business decision of his life; turning down a £200 fee, he asked instead for the character rights for musical production. This was a brave decision indeed, because as he explained to Neil McCormick in an April 2008 interview with the Daily Telegraph, having just blown his last eleven grand on a rock orchestral album that was never released, he was "absolutely, totally, bottom-of-the-pile skint".
Fortunately for him, the show's producers didn't think the rights would come to anything; his mother made him a Womble costume which included a black ping-pong ball nose, and he toured the radio stations with it. Although Batt is a serious songwriter, composer and arranger, his name will forever be associated with this charming ditty, which is hardly surprising, because it is doubtful if anyone could have come up with a song that was more in tune with the spirit of these furry burrow dwellers. And to cap it all, he performed it himself.