Womble characters

Physical characteristics

Wombles are essentially burrowing animals. Beresford’s original book describes them as “a bit like teddy bears to look at but they have real claws and live beneath Wimbledon Common”. As they mostly live in long-established burrows, they rarely use their claws even for digging. Their size and physical appearance has changed somewhat over the years: in the original editions of the books, Wombles are pictured as bear-like and between 3 and 5 feet (about 1–1.5 metres) in height, making them only slightly smaller than adult humans. This changed with the TV series, in which they were portrayed as being about knee-high to humans, with pointy snouts like those of hedgehogs. In the book and movie Wombling Free they are described as “short, fat, and furry”, roughly between three or four feet (about 1 metre) in height.

The main characters

The seven best-known Wombles appear throughout most of the books and TV programmes:

  • Great Uncle Bulgaria (old and wise – his full name is Bulgaria Coburg Womble)
  • Tobermory (handyman)
  • Madame Cholet (chef)
  • Orinoco (lazy and greedy)
  • Wellington (clever and shy)
  • Tomsk (sporty and strong)
  • Bungo (bossy and excitable)

However, there are many more Wombles in the Wimbledon burrow, and there are Womble burrows all over the world. In chapter 7 of The Wombles, Great Uncle Bulgaria mentions, “Family? Me? Oh yes, about two hundred and thirty of them.”

The 1990s TV Wombles: Orinoco, Tomsk; Shansi, Uncle Bulgaria; Stepney, Tobermory, Madame Cholet; Alderney, Wellington, Bungo

The 1990s television series focussed on ten to twelve Wombles – the core seven above, plus another five regular characters and visitors:

  • Alderney
  • Shansi
  • Stepney
  • Cairngorm, the MacWomble the Terrible
  • Obidos

Great Uncle Bulgaria

The oldest and wisest of the Wimbledon Wombles and their leader. He is based on Beresford’s father-in-law and named after the country and the German city, respectively. He occasionally frightens the younger Wombles with his stern manner (and particularly his habit of glaring at them through two pairs of spectacles) but is actually very kind. He is over 300 years old by the final book.



Great Uncle Bulgaria is the head of the Wimbledon burrow. His full name is Bulgaria Coburg Womble, but he is known as Great Uncle Bulgaria to the young Wombles.

He is very old indeed, noone really knows exactly for sure, but it’s safe to guess he’s anywhere between three hundred years and eternity. His age and status has brought about some eccentricities.

Great Uncle Bulgaria’s one weakness is his daily copy of The Times, from which he gets information about the human world and which he’s often heard to insist “never lies”. He has a particular obsession for the crossword.

Great Uncle Bulgaria often rejects modern technology, not because he doesn’t see its potential, but because he understands the value in tradition. (“Computers? Pshaw! A quill and paper is all anyone really needs to write with…”). To Great Uncle Bulgaria, the new technology is to be viewed with suspicion.

He supports Tobermory’s grand unconventional inventions, but remains firmly grounded in doing things the way he’s always done them. You would never see him going for a ride in the womcopter (although he’s been known to take an unintentional spin in the buggy!) or sending a message on the womfax. He is still fazed by the wellicom and the speaking tube system in the burrow.

A master storyteller, he has an anecdote for any occasion, a fantastic tale for every situation, and words of wisdom for anyone within earshot. Venerated for his wisdom and experience, Great Uncle Bulgaria indulgently supervises the younger Wombles, who think he knows everything. He can be gruff and strict, but he has a kind heart.



Great Uncle Bulgaria “is over 300 years old and is the wisest of the Wimbledon Wombles. To keep warm he wears a MacWomble tartan shawl, and his favourite newspaper is The Times. Great Uncle Bulgaria can be strict and turn a young Womble into jelly when he looks at them over the top of his spectacles and says ‘Tsk, tsk, tsk, young Womble’. However, he is also very kind and it is to him that the Wombles turn for help and guidance.” – Quote from ‘ The Wombles Who’s Who ‘ at the back of each Wombles book

Barry Leith with the original Womble elder Great Uncle Bulgaria. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. Diss Express
Campaign to save British-made children’s television in the UK Tidy Bag
Womble hire
Wombles Fan Club
Ivor Wood designing the Wombles – Ivor Wood


An engineer, based on Beresford’s brother, a skilled inventor, and named after the capital of the Isle of Mull, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. He has a gruff and surly manner but like Bulgaria (with whom he has been friends for many years) he has a very kindly heart.



Tobermory is second-in-command of the burrow, helping Great Uncle Bulgaria by overseeing its day to day workings. He also serves as a mechanical mastermind and has a particular gift for making useful gadgets out of ordinary, everyday rubbish. He doesn’t believe in waste and can see a use for everything.

Tobermory is very good friends with Great Uncle Bulgaria. While he has fully embraced the 21st century, he fully respects Great Uncle Bulgaria’s views on the origin of things and has great respect for the old Womble’s position. While Tobermory is very comfortable motoring around in a turbo wom-hummer, he can also be seen strolling by alongside Uncle Bulgaria on their morning walks.

Tobermory is middle-aged (about halfway between Uncle Bulgaria and the younger Wombles), phlegmatic and practical. While he stands no nonsense from the young Wombles as he supervises their daily clearing-up duties, Tobermory is patient and steadfastly positive. He is also confidant to the young Wombles and a strong supporter of most any endeavour the young Wombles embark upon.

Tobermory has a chivalrous, gentlemanly relationship with Madame Cholet, treating her as his well-respected equal. He is very fond of Wellington’s attempts at inventing, and likes to encourage his young apprentice whenever possible, but at the same time very often ends up having quite a mess to tend to when Wellington’s inventions go horribly wrong.



Tobermory “is extremely clever with his paws and runs the Womble Workshop. The young Wombles bring in all kinds of rubbish and broken objects that they find on the Common. Tobermory takes off his bowler hat, scratches his head for a moment, and then mutters, ‘Problems, problems’, before turning the rubbish into something very useful.”

– Quote from ‘ The Wombles Who’s Who ‘ at the back of each Wombles book

Madame Cholet

A very kind-hearted but short-tempered female Womble, and the cook of the Wimbledon burrow, styled on Beresford’s mother and named after the town of Cholet in France. She affects a French accent, though she is actually no more French than any other Wimbledon Womble and simply likes to think of herself as French.



Madame Cholet is the burrow’s cook, and an auntie figure to the young Wombles. She is closest to Tobermory in age, and rather more straight-laced than Great Uncle Bulgaria or Tobermory.

Lively and spirited, she talks a mile a minute and her conversation is punctuated by words and phrases in French.

Because of her culinary skills and the fact that all Wombles are happiest when their tummies are full, the others are very careful not to offend Madame Cholet. She has a quick temper when she feels her talents are unappreciated, and woe betide any Womble who criticises her cooking. (She is, however, quick to forgive.)

A respected member of the Womble family, Madame Cholet is third-in-charge. Whenever Great Uncle Bulgaria has to leave the burrow, he makes her his deputy.



Madame Cholet “is a brilliant Womble cook and her blackberry and apple pie is famous throughout Wombledom. She is very inventive and can turn her paw to any recipe, using ingredients the young Wombles find on the Common. She is very kind but can get cross when young Wombles interrupt her cooking, especially Orinoco!”

– Quote from ‘ The Wombles Who’s Who ‘ at the back of each Wombles book


A shirker who loves sleep and food, styled on Beresford’s teenage son and named after the river in South America. Though lazy and slothful by nature, Orinoco is resourceful and always means well, and is capable of some surprising acts of moral and physical courage.



As Orinoco sees it, you may as well do what you’re good at, and he knows he’s good at eating and sleeping – both pastimes get a lot of practice.

Rather chubby, somewhat lazy and sometimes greedy, Orinoco is still the most loveable of all the young Wombles because his motives are so very basic. He has a great air of innocence which prevents his habits from being annoying to others.

Orinoco is actually rather clever, which is how he manages to succeed so often in avoiding work and finding a hiding place for a quick forty winks. When necessity strikes, he can be very imaginative. And, truth be known, it is possible to distract Orinoco from his two obsessions as he does enjoy an adventure, but it isn’t long before his attention returns to you know what.

Orinoco doesn’t get around as quickly as the others and, being out of shape, he is prone to the occasional injury. Orinoco has a very calm nature and isn’t one to overreact needlessly. He sometimes tends to miss the enormity of a situation. The others tend to watch out for him and are always around to offer him a helping paw, or a boost over a low fence.

There was a time when Bungo and Orinoco didn’t exactly get along, although now they are good friends. Bungo will sometimes succumb to a practical joke at Orinoco’s expense, but it’s generally good-natured.


Orinoco “is the fattest, greediest and laziest of the young Wombles. His favourite job is ‘helping’ Madame Cholet to taste recipes in the kitchen. He doesn’t like tyding-up duties on the Common and usually finds a bush to hide behind and have a nap, saying, ‘I’ll just have a nice forty winks’. Quite often he is woken up by another Womble’s adventure.”

– Quote from ‘ The Wombles Who’s Who ‘ at the back of each Wombles book

Orinoco from a Filmfair advertisement – Ivor Wood


Over-enthusiastic and bossy, named after the province of Bungo in Japan. He is Orinoco’s best friend and based on Beresford’s daughter.




When Wombles come of age, they carefully choose their names from the old atlas in Uncle Bulgaria’s study. All it took Bungo was the few seconds needed to shut his eyes and point.

Bungo is an excitable young Womble who can be rather bossy and obnoxious at times. He is bursting with clever ideas and not one to let pass the opportunity to offer an opinion. He likes to think of himself as always in the right, even if he’s not. (“I didn’t give the wrong answer, you just asked the wrong question!”)

Bungo can be quite competitive and is never too shy to proclaim any victory, even in the smallest of competitions or games. He also always tries to be first to find a copy of The Times for Great Uncle Bulgaria.

Though the second youngest in the burrow, just after Shansi, Bungo has probably had the largest number of adventures of many of the Wombles.

Bungo has a great sense of humour and of mischief. He is fond of pranks and can often see the lighter side of a situation, sometimes to the annoyance of the rest of the burrow. He is particularly fond of trying to unsettle Orinoco. He has a unique relationship with Tomsk, whose innocence often means he gets taken in by Bungo’s plans and pranks. Bungo relies on Tomsk’s physical abilities to help him in his plans.



Bungo “is the youngest of the working Wombles. Even though he has not been on tidying-up duties as long as the other young Wombles, he is rather bossy and thinks he knows the answer to everything. He’s usually wrong! Great Uncle Bulgaria sometimes looks at him over the top of his spectacles and says, ‘Bungo! Silly sort of name, but it suits him’.”

– Quote from ‘ The Wombles Who’s Who ‘ at the back of each Wombles book


An athletic but rather dim Womble, named after the city of Tomsk in Russia. He acts as the official “Nightwatch Womble” (and Daywatch Womble on occasion). He is an extremely keen golf player, and plays on the London Scottish Golf Club course situated on the common, where human visitors have occasionally noted his talent for the sport. He is the largest and strongest of the Wimbledon Wombles.



Tomsk is the largest of the Wimbledon Wombles. He is strong, athletic and sporty – a very physical character. All Wombles love nature, but Tomsk has a particular affinity for the outdoors.

Tomsk’s exceptional size and strength are belied by a very gentle soul and childlike innocence. He is a warm, loyal, loveable Womble, who – how shall we put it? – lacks any real mental prowess. He is prone to taking things literally, which has rather drastic results at times.

Tomsk quite often gets taken in by Bungo’s mischief and they are a bit of a double act. He doesn’t always understand what Bungo’s up to, but laughs along anyway so as not to be left out.

Tomsk is a devoted friend, dependable and good-natured. His job is very often to serve as night-watch Womble, making sure that all of the Wombles have returned safely each evening.



Tomsk “is the largest of the young Wombles and is very good at sport. He may not be good at
reading or writing but brilliant at getting Wombles out of tight spots when a bit of strength is called for.”

– Quote from ‘ The Wombles Who’s Who ‘ at the back of each Wombles book

Tomsk from a Filmfair advertisement – Ivor Woods


Madame Cholet’s assistant, named after Alderney in the Channel Islands where Beresford lived towards the end of her life. She appeared in the early books, but was not in the first TV series. Her character was revived in the second TV series. She is a pretty and precocious young Womble with a slight disregard for the rules.



Alderney is a distant relative of Great Uncle Bulgaria. She is a lively, adventurous young Womble with a profound sense of curiosity of the world around her; she loves nothing more than to find and try to do new things.

Alderney is strong-willed and doesn’t take no for an answer. She is an agent for change and she tends to challenge the old Womble way of doing things. Because her head is filled with so many ideas, she frequently goes off in tangents, sometimes in mid- conversation, sometimes while she is in the midst of doing something else.

As a result of the many experiences she’s had, Alderney tends to have a unique way of doing things and dares to be different. The best example of this is the fact that Alderney lives in a treehouse on the Common – Wombles are typically burrow-dwelling creatures.

Alderney’s particular concern is water pollution. She chose the spot for her treehouse because of its proximity to Queen’s Mere. She likes to be able to keep an eye on things there.

Alderney takes great pride in her efforts in the kitchen, but as far as the others are concerned she has got a lot to learn! She is a bit of a health food nut and will concoct odd recipes which never tend to go over very well. Madame Cholet tries to advance Alderney’s culinary abilities, but it’s usually impossible to keep her attention long, before she’s off in another direction.

Alderney and Wellington are frequently found paired together, which is interesting since they couldn’t be more opposite: Alderney is affable and outgoing, Wellington is shy and lacks social confidence; Alderney is generally off in a million directions at once, Wellington is obsessive and very focused. But their differences could be what appeals to them.

Alderney is a very good womcopter pilot!



Alderney “is a pretty young Womble who is in charge of the burrow’s tea trolley. As the
Wombles love their food this is an important job which she enjoys. Alderney is also a bit
headstrong and can lead othr young Wombles into scrapes.”

– Quote from ‘ The Wombles Who’s Who ‘ at the back of each Wombles book


Scientifically inclined, but very insecure and absent-minded. Named after Beresford’s nephew’s school, Wellington School, Somerset, though Wellington himself later states that he chose his name from the city of Wellington in New Zealand.



The complete opposite to Tomsk, Wellington lacks physical stature but he is the brightest of them all and a very keen inventor in training. Having spent so much time in his books and at his inventions, he hasn’t fully developed his interpersonal skills and is sadly lacking in social confidence.

He comes across as very shy, but when the conversation turns to ‘shop’ Wellington becomes really talkative. (Asking him the time, for instance, would result in a very detailed account of how a clock or watch is made!) When talking technical, Wellington is prone to using seven words when one will do and littering his speech with pseudo-scientific language.

Tobermory appreciates Wellington’s interest in inventing and has taken him under his wing to try to teach him all he knows. He also tries to encourage Wellington that it’s also important sometimes to stop working and have fun.

Because Wellington can get so focused on what he’s doing, he has a tendency to be rather absent-minded. The other Wombles tease him about this. It isn’t uncommon for him to forget an important message, his birthday, or the key safety features he was supposed to include on his latest contraption.



Wellington “is rather shy, very clever and he is the smallest of the Wombles. He loves reading,
inventing things and helping Tobermory in the Workshop. Some of Wellington’s inventions are
really very good but he always apologises for them!”

– Quote from ‘ The Wombles Who’s Who ‘ at the back of each Wombles book

Tidy Bag


Remembering The Wombles

All the latest news and information on classic kids’ TV and pop stars The Wombles, including a collection of Wombles memorabilia.

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