Worzel Gummidge

1979 | United Kingdom

The series, scripted by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall that brought back Barbara Euphan Todd's popular talking scarecrow after a TV absence of 26 years. 

Starring former Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee (who suggested the project in the first place), as the turnip headed inhabitant of Scatterbrook Farm in Ten Acre Field, and Una Stubbs as his reluctant girlfriend Aunt Sally. The part gave Pertwee a chance to show off his comedy skills and funny voices that he had used on so many BBC radio shows including 'The Navy Lark', and was a huge hit, boosting sales of the original books and spawning a number of merchandise items, including a single by Pertwee called 'Worzel's Song'. The Crowman, Worzel's creator was played by former Catweazle star Geoffrey Bayldon. Other actors who made guest appearances included Billy Connolly, Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor and Bernard Cribbins. 

When programme makers Southern Television lost it's franchise production was halted, although attempts were made to produce the show independently and sell it to the BBC. Scripts had already been written for further episodes but when no series transpired they were published in book form. Then in 1986, Channel 4 commissioned Worzel Gummidge Down Under, which was shot in New Zealand, and 22 further episodes were made. The excuse for Worzel moving to the other side of the world was for his pursuit of Aunt Sally, who is purchased by a visiting museum curator and then shipped abroad. Worzel follows her into the luggage chute. Only Pertwee and Stubbs reprised their roles. But hampered by its inexplicable Sunday morning transmission the series never really recaptured the huge audience it had previously enjoyed.

A stage musical (Worzel Gummidge - The Musical) ran at the Cambridge Theatre in London's West End from December 1981 to February 1982 which starred Pertwee, Stubbs and Bayldon and an original cast album entitled The Worzel Gummidge Maxi Single was released featuring 15 songs and 4 bonus tracks. In 2016 Stuart Manning's The Worzel Book, a complete history of the televised series was released. 

"He says and does the things that all of us would like to do, but are too shy, self-conscious and respectful to. Being rude to those in authority, being selfish... there is something of Worzel in all of us." - Jon Pertwee.

Published on February 13th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus "I'll have eleventy seven sausages!" (2019) for Television Heaven.

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