29/09/2014 12:47 BST | Updated 29/09/2014 15:59 BST

'The Simpsons' Show Runner Al Jean Explains Decision To Kill Off Character In Debut Episode Of 26th Series (SPOILER)

The Simpsons' executive producer has explained his decision to kill off one of the popular Simpsons characters in the opening episode of the 26th series of the record-breaking comedy.

Al Jean tells HuffPostUK, "First of all, if you're reading this in the UK, STOP NOW!!!"

He goes on, "A year ago, I mentioned that a character who had won an Emmy for his role on the show was going to die.

Viewers were concerned they were going to lose Krusty the Clown in the new series

"The next thing we knew, it was front page headlines in Uruguay. Matt (Groening) and I were saying, 'Well, we'd better make this a big deal.' It just got more and more overblown."

In an episode which aired in the US this weekend, viewers saw Krusty's dad die ending months of speculation as to which character was going to meet his maker in the long-running cartoon.

Al continues, "We titled it 'Clown in the Dumps', and we thought that would be really clear, as that means the clown's sad, right? And people still thought we meant we were killing Krusty, so they just totally misinterpreted it.

"I just wasn't going to say it outright, but by the end, I was almost whispering, 'It's going to be the Rabbi, people.'

"I thought we did a very emotional show, very realistic. He's not going to come back to life, and if people were hoping to see Homer's brains blown out, sorry, that's not going to happen."

Is everyone else safe, then?

"Yes," reassures Al, "except for Halloween, when they encounter the other Simpsons from the Tracey Ullman show, but in terms of reality... " he smiles, " the ones that really occur, this was a one-off."

For Al, it's been reassuring to see the effect the storyline has had on fans of the show, which has been recovering from falling ratings in the US.

"A couple of people were writing, 'No one cares too much about The Simpsons,'" he ponders. "And then something like this happens, and a little rumour like that takes flight, and it turns out people still really care about The Simpsons after all."

The 26th series of The Simpsons will be broadcast in the UK later in the year.