Groundskeeper Willie finally reveals his Orcadian roots

America's most famous Scot, Groundskeeper Willie.  Picture: 20th Century Fox
America's most famous Scot, Groundskeeper Willie. Picture: 20th Century Fox
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HE is the cantankerous cartoon Scotsman who was famously voted ahead of Sir Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor and Rabbie Burns as the person most Americans associate with Scotland.

But the origin of the tartan roots of Groundskeeper Willie, the fiery janitor at Springfield Elementary School in The Simpsons, has been shrouded in mystery.

Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen have all laid claim to being the birthplace of the flame-haired curmudgeon since he first hit Britain’s television screens.

But Groundskeeper Willie has now been officially outed as an Orcadian.

It was revealed yesterday that in an episode of The Simpsons to be broadcast in America later this month, Willie will tell Bart Simpson that he comes from Kirkwall

And he also reveals that he is the offspring of a romance between two of Kirwall’s Uppies and Doonies whose legendary rivalry is played out in the streets of the island capital twice a year in the famous Ba’ Game.

It is a union, Willie tells Bart, that “tore his family apart”.

News of Willie’s Orkney origins were the talk of Kirkwall yesterday.

Local councillor Bobby Leslie, 71, chairman of the Ba’ Committee, said: “It’s fantastic news. Being a Doonie myself we could do with Willie here at the moment because we haven’t been very successful this last few years.

“They say he’s about the size of two normal Doonies, and we could do with folk like that.

“The last time we won was New Year’s Day 2011. But we lost both the Christmas and New Year’s Day Ba’ games this year.”

He added: “I know that The Simpsons is watched around the world and it will give Orkney a boost and a focus in America. This just takes it to another level.”

But Mr Leslie stressed: “We would be delighted if the visitors come in the summer.

“But we don’t really want any other Ba’ players coming here to take in the game in the winter because it’s getting almost unmanageable because of the numbers on some occasions.

“We’re not wanting an influx of blokes coming in just to say they’ve played in the Ba’ game.”

Barbara Foulkes, VisitScotland’s manager on Orkney, said: “The Simpsons has millions of fans all over the world.

“I am delighted to learn that one of the show’s most popular characters hails from Kirkwall.” Rob Lazebnik, one of the writers of the hit show, explained that the episode features a conversation between Bart, his pal Millhouse and Willie about myths and legends.

Mr Lazebnik said: “Willie says ‘There’s one thing I do want to clear up about me at school, and that’s everyone thinks that I’m from either Edinburgh or Glasgow, and the truth is I’m from Kirkwall in Orkney.’

“He’s frequently changing his story. But we liked the idea of him for once saying: ‘I’m not from one of these big cities.’

“So we went online and spent a lot of time looking at lists of towns and cities, and we frankly loved the name ‘Kirkwall in Orkney’.

“More importantly, we came across the Ba’ game and that felt like such a perfect fit for Willie.

“He is a very powerful man and the equivalent of easily two or three Doonies so he’s an asset for any team.”