The Simpsons celebrates its 400th episode on Sunday as the hit show looks set to become the longest running in US television history.

Fox, the broadcaster behind the animated sitcom, is currently considering whether or not to commission a record-equalling 20th season.

The Simpsons, which follows the exploits of a working class American family headed by donut-munching hero Homer, has been a massive global success.

It has been running for almost two decades, combining slapstick comedy with sharp social commentary and paving the way for other animated shows that appeal to both children and adults.

As well as the show itself, the Simpsons has spawned a multi-million dollar industry in merchandise from lunchboxes and T-shirts to computer games and talking dolls.

Later this year the world will finally see America's favourite nuclear family on the big screen.

The Simpsons movie comes after years of speculation about a cinematic outing for Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie as well as the army of extras that have also become household names.

Little is known about the plot but it is due for worldwide release in the summer.

15/05/2007 15:07:18