Harry Shearer to stop voicing Dr. Hibbert in 'The Simpsons'

Dr Hibbert from The Simpsons (Credit: Disney)
Dr Hibbert from The Simpsons (Credit: Disney)

Harry Shearer, who has voiced Dr. Julius Hibbert in The Simpsons since the show's inception, is to stop voicing the chuckling physician.

Spinal Tap icon Shearer played the role for the last time in last weekend's episode, Dairy Queen.

Taking over from the episode to be broadcast on 28 February will be Kevin Michael Richardson, known for his previous work on shows like Family Guy, American Dad and F Is For Family on Netflix, for which he scored an Emmy nomination.

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Shearer had played Springfield's GP - known for his bursts of inappropriate laughter - for more than 30 years, first appearing in the episode Bart The Daredevil from the show's second season in 1990.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 28: Actor and voice of multiple characters Harry Shearer attends
Harry Shearer (Credit: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

However, Shearer will continue to voice a host of other characters, including Mr Burns, Principal Skinner and Ned Flanders.

The news comes following a number of moves by showmakers to recalibrate its cast to reflect the ethnicity of the actors behind the voices.

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Last year, Hank Azaria stepped down from playing Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu, following some years of pressure to do so.

Actor Hank Azaria arrives at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, U.S., February 25, 2017. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Hank Azaria (Credit: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Azaria told talk show host Stephen Colbert: “I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it.”

It also came after Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu made the documentary The Problem With Apu in 2017, detailing the issues with the heavily stereotyped – though much loved – character.

Azaria also quit voicing Homer Simpson's friend and power plant co-worker Carl Carlson last year, with Alex Désert taking on the character.

Watch: Black actor Kevin Michael Richardson to take over Dr. Hibbert on The Simpsons