It's the Simp-stones! Curling comes to Springfield

DESPITE the freezing conditions required to play the game, the sport of curling has always struggled to be seen as "cool".

• Homer and Marge enjoy a moment of curling success in a episode which will be aired just after the start of the Winter Olympics

Even when it received a boost after a homegrown Olympic win armchair critics derided it as little more than "housework on ice".

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But now the roaring game – played in Scotland since the 16th century – is to receive the ultimate pop culture endorsement, a staring role in The Simpsons.

Homer, Marge, Principal Skinner and his mother will compete in the sport in an episode that will be aired in North America on Valentine's Day, just after the opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver on Friday. It will be shown in the UK soon after, although there is no firm date yet.

As Scots curlers prepare to lead Britain's hopes for gold, the sport's organisers in Scotland believe the high-profile billing will help boost curling's image.

The news has also been cautiously welcomed by Scottish players who think it should lift the popularity of curling – provided it does not poke fun at the sport.

The show could attract even more people to the sport than Rhona Martin's 2002 gold-medal performance for Great Britain at the Salt Lake games. "We always struggle for TV coverage so any coverage we get is fantastic," said Ms Martin.

Hammy McMillan – 1999 world champion and five-time European champion – said curling was not in good shape and cancellation of the Lake of Menteith Grand Match last month did not help.

Coverage is mainly limited to the Olympics every four years and world championship titles.

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Mr McMillan said: "We're looking after the top of the sport and we need to look after the bottom. Ice rinks in Scotland are not going to survive without new members. But as long as The Simpsons doesn't ridicule the sport, it might do some good."

Despite the success of the national team in 2002, there was criticism when the World Women's Curling Championship came to Paisley in 2005 and could not fill limited seats with Scotland competing in the seniors final.

Team GB's hopes in Vancouver lie with the teams of 19-year-old Eve Muirhead from Blair Atholl, and 31-year-old David Murdoch from Lockerbie. Both are already preparing for a probable showdown with world number one squads, both from Canada.

Ms Muirhead said: "I think it is cool Homer is going to be a curler. It'll help to raise the sport's profile."

In the new episode of the cartoon Homer takes Marge out ice skating. They encounter a curling team practising and discover their love for the sport. They join the team and compete with them in the Olympic trials in which Team Springfield wins before moving on to the 2010 Vancouver Games.


AFTER 20 years, the love affair between The Simpsons and Scotland shows no sign of fading.

Curling is just the latest Scottish highlight to a show which boasts flame-haired, kilt-wearing Groundskeeper Willie as one of its most popular characters, though sometimes courting controversy for overdoing stereotypes.

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Willie's origins are unclear. He once said: "Suddenly the ugliest man in Glasgow wasn't good enough for her!", referring to his engagement to Shary Bobbins. But Willie – full name William MacDougal – also shouts "Go Aberdeen!" in another episode.

In 2003, author JK Rowling lent her voice to The Simpsons when the family travelled to London and met Tony Blair, among other notables.

In a 1999 episode, Homer and nuclear power plant owner Monty Burns journey to Scotland and capture Nessie, eventually having her work in Burns's casino. Although not part of the programme, Susan Boyle last year inspired Homer to audition for Springfield's Got Talent.