For anyone around in the late 70s, the words Worzel Gummidge will quickly provoke images of a terrifying, spine-chilling scarecrow with an interchangeable head and spindly fingers. It was the stuff of nightmares. But clearly the years have been kind to old Gummidge – in this 2019 version, he’s a lovely, gentle ball of hay, with a big heart. He is still a little creepy though…
But they’d struggle to make a personified scarecrow without him looking a little unnerving – we’ve all seen The Wizard of Oz. Regardless, this rural romp is a proper treat. Both updated and played by Mackenzie Crook, Worzel is now a twenty-first century crow, who pals up with some equally modern kids.
Those kids are Susan and John, who arrive from the city to be fostered by the Braithewaite family. They stumble upon Worzel and soon befriend him, and off they head on an eco-adventure, trying to save the harvest after hot weather and dumped plastic causes crops to fail.
It’s one of those rare shows that’s perfect for all the family – the kids will love this weird and wonderful story, and the parents will watch on, nostalgic for scarecrows gone by. The banter is bountiful, and the children realistic, wearing hoodies and asking for Wi-Fi codes. However, they soon learn – like the young audience hopefully will too – there’s a great lot of fun to be had out in the great outdoors.
Although, we admit, ideally not with Freddie Kruger looking crows.
Lucy Mangan in The Guardian says Worzel Gummidge is “an absolutely gorgeous, joyful mix of jokes,” concluding “this is a Worzel for our time and maybe, just maybe, of all time too.” The Telegraph’s Anita Singh says that whilst “you may grumble about the BBC remaking a classic,” this “was a rare thing: a family drama that every generation could enjoy together.” The Times’ Carol Midgely was mostly terrified of Worzel, saying he looks like “a TOTAL PSYCHO KILLER,” but admits it is “nicely modernised” and “funny.”
First shown December 2019. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.