News World On This Day: The Simpsons appears for the first time on television
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On This Day: The Simpsons appears for the first time on television

The Simpsons has been running for more than 30 years, and it all started on this day. Photo: Fox
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To millions of cartoon fans, it’s one of the greatest television shows of all time.

Set in the fictional town of Springfield, each episode centres around Homer Simpson and his dysfunctional family handling the ups and downs of American life.

On this day in 1987, there was no way of predicting the overwhelming success of The Simpsons.

That’s when the show first appeared in the form of animated shorts, in a recurring segment on Fox variety TV series, The Tracey Ullman Show.

Before the short aired, American cartoonist Matt Groening had initially intended to present his Life in Hell series to producer James L Brooks.

But when he realised he would have to rescind publication rights for his life’s work, he made the snap decision to go in another direction.

Inspired by his own family, he quickly sketched out his version of the Simpsons, including Homer, his wife Marge, and their three children Bart, Lisa and Maggie.

Groening modelled the rebellious son Bart on himself, but gave him a different name based on an anagram of “brat”.

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, next to a video monitor displaying Bart Simpson. Photo: Getty

The first version of his characters were a wonky version of the famous yellow family we know today.

Groening had submitted basic sketches to the animators, assuming they would clean them up, but they ended up tracing over his drawings instead.

Each short ran for just one minute, but it was enough to capture the attention of producers.

Two years later, The Simpsons was turned into a half-hour prime-time TV show.

The show is still running more than 30 years later, and draws an average of three million viewers in the United States over each season.