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Harry Shearer, The Voice of Mr Burns and More, Is Leaving 'The Simpsons'

D\'oh! That will be the noise made by millions of Simpsons fans today as Harry Shearer, one of its main voice actors, is quitting the show.

Published: 15th May 2015 09:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th May 2015 09:40 AM   |  A+A-

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The promo of 'The Simpsons'.

D'oh! That will be the noise made by millions of Simpsons fans today upon hearing that Harry Shearer, one of its main voice actors, is quitting the show. This news is not, as his character Mr Burns would put it, eeeexcellent.

Shearer tweeted to indicate that he wouldn't be returning in forthcoming series of the long-running cartoon. The actor quoted Simpsons producer James L Brooks's lawyer as saying "the show will go on, but Harry will not be part of it".

The 71-year-old polymath suggested that a desire to work on other projects was the reason for his decision, yet Simpsons cast members have always appeared in other projects. Perhaps he's simply had enough: Shearer's spent 26 years on the Springfield-set show, having been on-board since its 1989 launch.

How can The Simpsons go on without him? Shearer voices so many characters - not members of the Simpson family, but a crowd of beloved B-list characters: okely-dokely neighbour Ned Flanders, villainous billionaire Mr Burns, his unrequited lover Smithers, newsreader Kent Brockman, Reverend Lovejoy, Otto the bus driver and principal Seymour Skinner.

There are three ways this could go. The show could replace Shearer for its 27th season with a soundalike. This is a long shot and would seem like sacrilege. No other member of the central voice cast - Dan "Homer" Castellaneta, Julie "Marge" Kavner, Nancy "Bart" Cartwright, Yeardley "Lisa" Smith and Hank Azaria, who does the likes of Apu, Moe and Chief Wiggum - has ever been replaced.

Second, the show could see this as a cue to bow out. Stripped of one of its big talents, it might finally be time to put Homer and Co out of their lucrative but stale comedic misery.

Third, and most likely, is that makers Fox will resolve this, probably by throwing money at the problem. Word is that Shearer hasn't signed on because of "merchandise issues", which sounds suspiciously like he wants a bigger slice of the retail pie.

The Simpsons has survived tense salary negotiations, strikes and contract disputes. All it might take is for Fox proprietor Rupert Murdoch to arch his fingers and release the financial hounds...



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