Johnny Vegas has said Richard E Grant’s voice “lends itself perfectly to storytelling” as he reflects on their The Wombles collaboration for Christmas.
Comedian and Benidorm star Vegas has directed a newly recorded series of the beloved children’s show for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds to mark 50 years since it first appeared on the broadcaster.
Actor Grant has narrated the short stories, which follow a family of secretive litter-picking creatures who live beneath Wimbledon Common.
The first episode, titled Bungo, sees young Bungo choosing his name from Great Uncle Bulgaria’s atlas.
After settling this, he is ready to become a Womble of the world as embarks on his first day of work – tidying the Common.
The series is based on the original books written by Elisabeth Beresford and is “nestled in a new soundscape for Christmas 2023”.
Discussing how he got Grant involved, Vegas joked: “I hid in his garden dressed as a Womble but it worked eventually. I agreed to leave him alone and he agreed to come into studio.”
He added: “With Richard he’s somebody I’ve grown up watching and listening (to) and that voice just lends itself perfectly to storytelling.”
Vegas said it was “lovely” to be the first to hear the recordings and added they are excited to share them with the rest of the world now.
Grant admitted he had never read the original books until recording the episodes so he came to the project “completely like a virgin”.
Reflecting on working with Vegas, he said: “He’s been a very precise and very compassionate director and he knows exactly what to say and what notes to give.”
When asked what direction he gave, Vegas admitted: “I asked him to do things in very different accents. It’s not required, just for kicks.”
The late Bernard Cribbins previously narrated the children’s series.
The Wombles will air on Christmas Day on BBC Radio 4 at 6.15pm and it can be found on BBC Sounds.