Toon fave set for 26-episode eighth season

“SpongeBob SquarePants” will bounce into another season for Nickelodeon, which has ordered 26 more episodes of the popular children’s show.

Series celebrated its 10th anniversary Nov. 6 with a special that drew 7.7 million total viewers and ranked No. 1 among all basic cable programs that week. It has been the top-ranked animated series among kids 2-11 for more than seven consecutive years.

The new season, the series’ eighth, will bring the show’s all-time total to 178 episodes. Taking into account the nearly year-long production process, the just-commissioned episodes should begin airing in late 2010 or in 2011.

SpongeBob” creator Stephen Hillenburg exec produces the series with Paul Tibbitt. The original voice cast of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown and Carolyn Lawrence will remain on board.

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