TOP 25 SIMPSONS GUEST STARS

Believe it or not, America’s favourite family celebrates 25 years since it’s first ever episode (full episodes, not it’s appearances on The Tracey Ullman Show)

That’s The Simpsons, not The Waltons, although George Bush might disagree. George Bush was, of course, a memorable Simpsons character, although it wasn’t voiced by him. If it was, it would have been one of the greatest Simpsons guest stars ever.

In celebration of The Simpsons 25th anniversary, here’s 25 of the best guest stars of The Simpsons.

1. MICHAEL JACKSON

Jackson played a man pretending to be Michael Jackson, who befriended Homer when Homer was admitted to an asylum, referred to by guards as “The big white guy who thinks he’s the little black guy”

Homer has never heard of Michael Jackson, prompting the classic line :

“I’ve never heard of you, name one of your songs” “Beat It” “No you beat it”

Homer invites “Michael” to visit his family, who speaks to Bart, who is fooled by the voice believing him to be Michael Jackson, so he tells everyone.

A large crowd appears, only to be disappointed when it wasn’t Michael Jackson. Meanwhile, Bart forgets to get Lisa a birthday present, so “Michael” helps Bart write a song for her.

2. DUSTIN HOFFMAN

Hoffman played an inspirational teacher, Mr Bergstrom, who covers for Miss Hoover when she goes off sick. Mr Bergstrom isn’t afraid to make fun of himself, encouraging his kids to make fun of his name, suggesting Mr Nerdstrom or Mr Boogerstrom.

Eventually, he leaves town for another school, leaving Lisa heartbroken.

Classic line, came after bumping into Lisa and Homer at a museum, to Lisa :

“I thought that your dad was helping you with your homework. After talking to him, I believe that not to be the case”

3. RINGO STARR

A brief one, where Marge rediscovers her love of painting, and it emerges she sent some paintings of Ringo Starr to Ringo Starr. He’d spent 25 years replying to fanmail and finally got around to Marge. In this episode, he revealed that his real name is Richard, and that they have french fries in England, only they call them chips.

4. SPINAL TAP

Bart goes to a Spinal Tap concert and decides he wants to be a rock star. Taking his guitar to school, Otto gives an inpromptu concert on the buss, causing him to run late, then speed to get the kids to school on time, causing him to lose his lices, job and house. He eventually gets them all back.

It’s Spinal Tap, who steal the show, with so many classic lines ”

“Hello Springton!!!!”

“We’re very big in Eastern Europe. We bought a soccer team in Hungaria, or is it Bulgaria. I dunno, it’s one of the Garias”

“Could you record a trailer, nobody rocks as good as Bill and Marty?” “But what if somebody does rock as good as Bill and Marty? Or better?”

5. ELIZABETH TAYLOR

Two time guest star, playing Maggie Simpson, only saying one word at the end of the episode where the reminisce about Lisa’s first word. Although, none of the other family members heard it.

Then there was a later appearance as herself, turning down the chance to appear in a Krusty The Clown Special

6. KELSEY GRAMMAR

Sideshow Bob. Say no more. So many appearances, i’m not even sure if he’s a guest star or a regular cast member.

Classic Moment : The rakes. Burrrggggghhhh!!!!! Burrrggggghhhh!!!!!

7. DANNY DEVITO

A guest role as Herb Powell, as Homer’s half brother, who Homer only discovered when Granpa made a deathbed confession when he thought he was dying. It turns out, that Herb is a very rich man, making his money from running a car company.

Herb decides to bond with his new found brother, allowing him to design a car, with predictable results, ending with him being bankrupt.

Devito makes a second appearance, where he gets back on his feet and becomes successful again through a range of baby monitors, with the help of Homer.

8. GEORGE HARRISON

A second Beatle in this chart, Harrison says hello to Homer backstage at the Grammys, during his pop star days with The B Sharps, though is more excited about the food on offer. Later in the episode, The Be Sharps do a rooftop gig for fans, and Harrison’s chauffer driven car pulls over, for him to dismissively comment “That’s been done”

9. JON LOVITZ

Originally appeared as Jay Sherman, in cross promotion for his show The Critic, where he plays a film critic. Springfield hosts a film festival where he is invited to be a judge. Sherman finds himself being wedgied from a basketball hoop after accidentally suggesting (prompted by Bart) that MacGyver was gay, facing the wrath of Patti and Selma.

Lovitz also appears as the recurring character Artie Ziff, forever determined to win Marge’s affections.

10. JACKIE MASON

Legendary comedian plays the disapproving Rabbi dad of another comedian, Hershal Krustovsky (or, if you prefer, Krusty The Clown). In real life, Jackie Mason used to be a Rabbi.

11. PATRICK STEWART

Known simply as Number One, Stewart plays the leader of a secret organisation called The Stonecutters, who in son, claim to control the British crown, keep the metric system down, keeps the martians under wraps, and keeps Atlantic off the maps.

Although, he is deposed by Homer, after it emerges he has the sacred Stonecutters birthmark. Disagreements about Homer’s direction of the organisation results in a breakaway group, which excludes Homer.

12. GLENN CLOSE

Close stars as Homer’s long lost mum, Mona, in a few brief appearances. Upon meeting his new grandmother, Bart immediately brings up the backdated birthday and christmas presents he is owed.

Mona bonds with Lisa, they start singing Blowin In The Wind by Bob Dylan …

“How many roads must a man walk, before you can call him a man?” – Homer shouts a number before being told it was a rhetorical question, only to shout another number.

13. DOLLY PARTON

A brief appearance, she helps Homer and friends escape from “Superbowl Jail” with her make-up remover, after she shares a mutual friend with Homer, Travel Agent Wally Kogen, who organised the ill fated Superbowl trip.

14. MARK HAMILL

By being swamped by fans at a convention, Mark Hamill accidentally sends Homer’s career spinning in the direction of the security industry, when Mayor Quimbey is impressed by Homer’s rescue of Hamill.

Classic moment : Homer and Hamill flee to safety in a prop spaceship, only for them to exit ti seconds later, with Homer saying “How was I supposed to know it wasn’t a real spaceship?”

15. DONALD SUTHERLAND

Sutherland plays a historian fiercely loyal to the legacy of Jebediah Springfield, to the point that he attempts to sabotage Lisa’s investigation when she gets a sniff that Jebediah Springfield might not be the great cultural icon he’s made out to be, to the point she, her children, and her children’s children are banned from the Springfield Historical Society. For three months.

16. ADAM WEST

Masked crimefighter and political icon West is the guest of honour at a car show, where Bart and Lisa don’t know who he is, having only seen Tim Burton’s Batman movies, asking “Why doesn’t Batman dance? Remember the Batusi?”

17. JAY LENO/STEVEN WRIGHT

Jay Leno organises a Comedy Festival in Springfield, and Bart persuades him to put Krusty on the bill. Krusty bombs and announces his retirement, on a low. At his press conference, Krusty goes on a rant, having the press in howls of laughter, so he announces his comeback, and an edgy, underground comedian, before failing to resist the lure of money and commercialism, by appearing in a car commercial.

Steven Wright appears on the bill, declaring that he read the dictionary, and it turns out the zebra did it. Everybody laughs, except Homer, who didn’t get the joke.

18. STING

Bart plays a prank on Springfield, putting a two way radio down a well, pretending to be a trapped child under the name of Timmy O’Toole. Realising he put his nametag on the radio, Bart tries to retrieve it, only to fall down himself.

Timmy’s case got widespread sympathy, including a charity single, where Krusty contacts Sting, who he had sacked his opening at some years earlier.

Sting gets his hands dirty in the rescue mission, prompting this classic line :

“Mrs Simpson, I can’t sit by while one of my fans is in trouble”
“Actually, i’ve never heard Bart play any of your records”

Only for Homer to whisper “Shut up Marge, he’s a good digger”

19. THE WHO

Springfield gets split into two, with their own version of the Berlin Wall, only for a concert by The Who to reunited the divided city.

20. LISA KUDROW

The only Friend on the list, Kudrow plays a new girl at the school, who befriends Lisa’s circle of friends, and struggles to understand why a bunch of eight year olds are so immature.

21. DAVID HYDE PIERCE

Joining another guest star (shouldn’t be too hard to guess who) as Cecil Terwilliger, Bob’s brother, who still hasn’t got over missing out on being Krusty’s sidekick, attempting to frame his brother in a dodgy construction scam, which would result in a dam bursting.

When confronted by Bob, Cecil says he’ll get away with it due to a criminal mastermind with a grudge against the city being on the payroll, to which Bob reference’s Cousin Merle (one of the construction workers) and his issues with parking tickets, before “Oh. you mean me”

22. DAVID DUCHOVY/GILLIAN ANDERSON

Before investigating crime in Belfast, Gillian Anderson (along with X-Files co-star David Duchovny) investigated extra terrestrial activity in Springfield, when Homer claimed he saw an alien. It turned out to be Mr Burns, glowing, after his Friday evening medical treatment.

23. MARTIN SHEEN

Sheen stars as Seymour Skinner, who turned out to be held in a POW Camp for 25 years, and that the principal of the local school, was a fraud. The other Skinner came to inform Agnes Skinner that her son was believed to be dead, but he didn’t get a chance to deliver the news as she immediately took him in, believing him to be her son.

The new Skinner gets put in charge of the school, but his reign is unpopular, and is overthrown and deported from Springfield, with the fraud Skinner going back to his original job, and the real Skinner is never spoken of again.

24. JOHN WATERS

Waters plays a gay shop owner who Homer befriends, not knowing he is gay. Homer insists that John and his wife to dinner, only for Marge to drop hints that “John prefers being in the company of men”, which Homer replies “Who doesn’t?”, interpreting it as like he is in the company of Lenny and Karl at Moe’s

Homer eventually realises that John is gay, and sends Bart to kill a Reindeer, as a final attempt to try and stop Bart being gay in the future, only for the animals to attack them, and John arrives on the scene to save the day/

25. BASEBALL LEGENDS

I know nothing about Major League Baseball, but I know the episode where Mr Burns hires various Baseball legends to work at the power plant in order to play as ringers for the company team is a classic episode.

THE MAGIC BOX

Well, that’s it. The end of an era, and the start of a new one.

I’m going to have to change my morning routine. Every morning when I wake up, I put on Ceefax – 101, 160, 501, 390, 302 – but not any more, as Northern Ireland’s analogue transmitters were switched off.

The last ever Pages From Ceefax (a curious watch when you had to be up early in the morning) ended with this self mocking message.

This was commemorated by a joint broadcast from BBCNI and UTV, the rather excellent ‘The Magic Box’ – a look back at television in Northern Ireland in the analogue era.

It was a star studded event (well, Frank Mitchell and Uncle Andy were there) but I got an e-mail a few weeks back offering me the opportunity to apply for tickets. I was tempted, but I thought this was a TV event best viewed, well, in front of a TV screen. I’m glad I did.

I was curious when reading the TV Guide on Saturday that the UTV show was scheduled to last for five minutes longer. That, was to become clear later on.

If you haven’t seen it, I seriously suggest you watch it. A link can be found here.

It began, being introduced with the classic BBC Globe Ident. Already, we’re off to a winner. I love it when the BBC does retro idents around themed events (Like when BBC 2 did 1970s Idents when introducing a season of programmes dedicated to the 1970s, fronted by Dominic Sandbrook)

From there, a comic turn, as continuity duties were handed to Julian Simmons, struggling to grasp that he was on the BBC (He has previously been on the BBC, playing himself in Give My Head Peace) and not being able to say “Simulcast” – a brilliant tribute to/gag at the expense of Ivan “Phenomenon” Little.

On a night dedicated to celebrating TV in Northern Ireland, it would have been criminal not to have Julian Simmons involved, although it was a man who has overtaken him as Northern Ireland’s most famous Continuity Announcer, Peter Dickson who introduced Eamonn Holmes in the studio.

Holmes was one of many stars we got to see in a younger day, as we were treated to a wide range of clips, in terms of subject matter, era and tone. Having looked back, and laughed at, some of life’s more light hearted moments, as well as looking back at news reports from the troubles, as well as Chris Moore talking about his expose of child abuse in the Catholic church

If you wish to see a young Eamonn Holmes, as a sports reporter for UTV (He looks like Dimitar Berbatov) – check out this excellent clip of ITV’s 1982 World Cup coverage where he interviews Sammy Mackie.

Another well known face who began his career as a sports reporter (for the BBC) was also in the audience.

The five minute time difference in the schedule was explained as BBC went off air just after 23:30, and that UTV would go off air just before 23:35.

The BBC ending was fantastic. Superbly scripted and filmed. Once the end credits finished, a quick announcement explaining the situation was read out, before cutting to the 70s Ident, before fading out to reveal a series of TVs showing past BBC Idents (and even the Ceefax home page)

Credit to Continuity Announcer Mark Simpson for an excellent read out.

That was it. Analogue BBC, and Ceefax, was no more.

UTV’s ending was rather disappointing in comparision to BBC, very matter of fact, moving on to the next programme.

It would have been brilliant if they could have used an ident or idents incorporating this logo in their final analogue moments

So, to end, here’s five (well, six really) classic Northern Ireland Youtube Clips that probably should have been mentioned on The Magic Box.

HONOURABLE MENTION – JIM ‘CRAZY PRICES’ MEGAW

5 – JULIAN SIMMONS

Not an exact moment, but a Julian Simmons Best Of would have been brilliant.

4 – NORTHERN IRELAND DISCO DANCING CHAMPIONSHIP 1981

3 – BELFAST MUSIC SCENE 1986

Technically, an RTE clip, but let’s not let that get in the way of how brilliant this clip is. It’s amazing how some parts of South Belfast have barely changed over the past 26 years.

2. CATS IN THE CRADLE

This advert scared the life out of me when I was wee. Everytime I hear the song (even if it’s the Ugly Kid Joe or Jason Downs cover) I always think of this ad

1. GOAL OF THE SEASON 94/95

So, Lionel Messi has spent his whole career paying tribute to Joey Cunningham.

The season I first started going to Linfield matches.

A different era back then. Linfield began the season as reigning Champions and Cup holders, before ending up languishing in 8th.

Oh.