Everyone loves the Wombles, but few know the true story behind these innocent, children's characters.

The story was originally intended to be a gritty drama about the lives of a group of prostitutes who scraped a living from the business they could do on Wimbledon Common. Through circumstances too tragic to go into here, the women had come to be known as the Wombless and this was the title of the proposed series.

However, the BBC of the time did not believe the public were ready for television of such a serious and moving nature and the scripts were shelved somewhere in the depths of White City. Almost a decade passed before disaster struck and a burst water pipe flooded part of the archives, damaging some of the manuscripts stored there.

Staff salvaged what they could, but all that was left of the Wombless was a title page enscribed with the smudged word, "Wombles" and few other parts of the document were legible. However, the story was pieced together again, reassessed and this time got the nod of approval that was required to make a pilot episode. The show took off in a direction that couldn't have been more different to the original idea, but the astute viewer can still pick out references in the Wombles Theme Song.