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Harry Shearer is returning to The Simpsons

Shearer lends his voice to the characters of Mr Burns and Smithers
Shearer lends his voice to the characters of Mr Burns and Smithers

Comic actor Harry Shearer and his many voices are returning to The Simpsons following a contract dispute.

Duelling tweets in May between Shearer and Simpsons executive producer Al Jean suggested Shearer might be leaving the Fox cartoon series, where he has voiced numerous key characters since its debut in 1989.

But Fox announced that he will return alongside fellow cast members Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria for the series' 27th and 28th seasons.

Shearer voices characters including the Simpson family's neighbour Ned Flanders, billionaire Mr Burns and his kowtowing aide, Smithers.

Shearer, 71, has enjoyed a diverse career on numerous projects as an actor, writer, musician and producer - including a memorable role as bassist Derek Smalls in the cult mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap - both before and since becoming part of the Simpsons troupe.