The characters became nationally famous in the UK in the mid 1970s as a result of a very popular BBC children's television show using stop motion animation. A number of spin-off novelty songs also became major hits in the British music charts. The Wombles (band) was the brainchild of British music writer and composer, Mike Batt.
The Womble motto is "Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish." This green message was a reflection of the growing ecology movement of the 1970s.
Beresford developed the characters around members of her family, and named them after places the family had associations with. This is the list of young wombles:
Orinoco - a shirker who loved sleep and avoiding work, styled on Beresford's teenage son and named after the River Orinoco in South America.
Bungo - over-enthusiastic and bossy, named after Bungo Province in Japan.
Wellington - scientifically inclined, but very insecure and absent-minded. Named after her nephew's school: Wellington School, Somerset.
Tomsk - an athletic Womble with a rather low IQ, named after Tomsk in Russia.
Alderney - 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 did not make it into the first TV series. Her character was revived in the second TV series, when many viewers wrongly assumed she was a new character.
Shansi - often paired with Alderney, as Bungo was with Orinoco, named after a Shanxi province in China. She was also not seen until the second TV series.
Stepney - Typical East Ender barrow boy and more street wise.
Moosonee - Tomsk's penpal, named after a place in James Bay in Canada.
This is the list of old wombles:
Great Uncle Bulgaria - the Wombles' leader, based on Beresford's father-in-law and named after the country of Bulgaria.
Tobermory - 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 islands.
Madame Cholet - a cook, styled on Beresford's mother and named after the town of Cholet in France.
Cairngorm MacWomble the Terrible - named after the Cairngorms, a mountain range in Scotland. He was introduced in the second book (The Wandering Wombles) as a Highland Womble clan chief. He appeared in the TV series when he visited the Wimbledon burrow.
Nanny Alexandria - Great Uncle Bulgaria's nanny, named after the ancient city in Egypt.