Benedict Cumberbatch voices a moody version of Morrissey in a clip from this Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons. The episode is titled “Panic on the Streets of Springfield,” a slick reference to The Smiths’ song “Panic” in which the band’s frontman Morrissey sings “Panic on the streets of London” and various other cities in Britain. First airing in 1989, The Simpsons is currently on its record-breaking 32nd season of the show. Over the years, the iconic animated sitcom created by Matt Groening has epitomized and satirized the ideal American life through the Simpson family who resides in the fictional town of Springfield.
The show, often controversially, includes references to popular culture and celebrity cameo appearances. For instance, this week’s episode will feature a character named Quilloughby, Lisa Simpson’s new imaginary friend and “depressed British singer from the 1980s.” Based on the name and the description, Quilloughby is clearly a caricature of the moody British crooner Morrissey, the lead singer of The Smiths from 1982-1987 who went on to lead a successful solo career, releasing an album as recently as 2020. Though, rather than making headlines for his music, Morrissey has recently become a controversial figure for his statements regarding politics and veganism.
While The Simpsons originally wanted the British rocker himself to voice the character, another prolific British star, Benedict Cumberbatch, will step in and voice the Morrissey stand-in on this week’s episode of The Simpsons. In a clip from this week’s episode, per Variety, Quilloughby strolls through Springfield with Lisa giving his take on the town. Watch below:
The writer of the episode Tim Long insists the character is not Morrissey, but an original character created for the show. Long says, “The character is definitely Morrissey-esque, with maybe a small dash of Robert Smith from The Cure, Ian Curtis from Joy Division, and a bunch of other people.” However, a screengrab from the episode indicates that Quilloughby was once the leader of a band called “The Snuffs” whose hits reference The Smiths’ songs, such as “Hamburger Is Homicide,” a cheeky reference to their provocative album Meat Is Murder. This solidifies the fact the character is clearly a representation of Morrissey.
This is not the first time The Simpsons has taken aim at The Smiths. Morrissey reportedly turned down an offer to appear in the Season 15 episode “The Regina Monologues.” The episode was set in Britain and featured cameos from then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. “Panic on the Streets of Springfield” airs April 18th at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.