20 years of The Simpsons
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Date: 19 April, 2007

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'Mmmmmm ... doughnuts'

Ay Carumba! The Simpsons have just turned 20, and Andrew Chapman lists 20 things you may or may not know about the cartoon

1 - The very first episode of The Simpsons was aired as a short segment of The Tracey Ullman Show on 19 April, 1987, and was created by Matt Groening. It was called 'Good Night'.

2 - Simpsons merchandise generated $2 billion of revenue in the first 14 months after the full-length show began.

3 - The Simpsons has won the Best International Comedy Show category of the British Comedy Awards three times; it has also won 23 Emmys and many other awards.

4 - In May this year a special 400th episode of the show will be broadcast as the finale of the 18th season. It will feature Kiefer Sutherland in a take-off of '24'.

5 - There were no less than five guest stars in the 4th episode of series 15: they included Tony Blair, J K Rowling and Sir Ian McKellen all playing themselves.

6 - There are six main cast members in The Simpsons: Dan Castellanata (Homer and others), Julie Kavner (Marge and her sisters), Nancy Cartwright (Bart and other children) and Yeardley Smith (Lisa) play the family; Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer play many of the other characters.

7 - The title sequence of the show, with its regular elements such as Bart writing different lines, has been parodied seven times by the show itself over the years.

8 - There are eight members of the immediate Simpsons household: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, plus Homer's father Abraham (though he lives mainly at a nearby retirement home), the dog Santa's Little Helper, and the cat Snowball II.

9 - Kelsey Grammar (of Frasier fame) has appeared as a regular guest star - playing Sideshow Bob - nine times in the show so far.

10 - According to Wikipedia, no less than ten culturally significant neologisms have been spawned by the show, with 'D'oh' perhaps being the most famous. Another is Groundskeeper Willie's description of the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".

11 - In the 11th episode of the 11th series, 'Faith Off', Bart wrongly convinces himself he has the power of healing.

12 - Simpsons actor Dan Castellanata plays 12 regular characters in the show (and other occasional roles), including Homer and his father Abe, Barney, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie and Mayor Joe Quimby.

13 - Season 13 of The Simpsons was the last one to use traditional 'cell animation' – subsequent shows have all been created digitally.

14 - On 14 January, 2000, The Simpsons was awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

15 - The chief writers of The Simpsons listed their top 15 episodes for USA Today.

16 - There are around 16 writers who work on each episode of The Simpsons.

17 - There are said to be 17 actors involved in the highly secret Simpsons Movie which will air this summer. As well as the usual cast, Kelsey Grammar is expected to return as Sideshow Bob and other confirmed celebrities include Minnie Driver and Joe Mantegna.

18 - The 18th special 'Treehouse of Horror' episode of the show will air around Halloween this year. These traditionally consist of three mini-stories, and Groundskeeper Willie often dies on them. The 18th series is currently showing on Sky One.

19 - The 19th season of The Simpsons will be broadcast later this year.

20 - Happy 20th anniversary, Simpsons!