UK / ITV – Southern / 30×30 minute episodes 1×60 minute episode / Broadcast 25 February 1979 – 12 December 1981
Writers: Keith Waterhouse, Willis Hall / Characters: Barbara Euphan Todd / Producer: James Hill
“You put the Wor after W, a wor after O”
Much loved Worzel Gummidge has been around since the 1940’s and was actually first seen on TV back in 1953 but it is this very gorgeous series, made between 179 and 81 and starring brilliant Jon Pertwee, that everyone knows.
At the start of the series John and Sue Peters (Jeremy Austin and Charlotte Coleman) move to the country with their dad after the death of their mother. Moving into a caravan on Scatterbrook Farm, they are more than a little shocked to discover that the scarecrow in ten acre field can actually come to life. Created by the kindly (but a little sinister) Crowman (played by Geoffrey Bayldon who also appeared in the cult-tastic Catweazle), they find out his name is Worzel Gummidge and pretty quickly realise that wherever he goes chaos is sure to follow.
Worzel, as played by Pertwee is a delicious character, kind hearted and a great nature lover (he even gives a Robin Redbreast a home in his straw chest, but also incredibly greedy and a great lover of “a cup o’ tea and a slice o’ cake”. His main aim in life is to make the haughty and very rude Aunt Sally (Una Stubbs in one of the best roles she’s ever played) fall in love with him, naturally Aunt Sally is a real fairground shy, able, like Worzel, to come to life. With Aunt Sally continually giving him the cold shoulder (except when there is cake involved) Worzel also liked to spend time with both ships figure head Saucy Nancy (A typecast Barbara Windsor) and Dolly Clothes-Peg (Lorraine “Luton Airport” Chase).
You are never far away from a laugh with Worzel and there is a fair amount of slapstick involved too; WG actually has quite a melancholic heart though with Worzel just looking for someone to love him and more often than not ending up with disappointment – although the crowman is always on hand to put things aright.
In 1987 Channel 4 made Worzel Gummidge Down Under which took Worzel and Aunt Sally to New Zealand. It ran until 1989 for two seasons and 22 episodes.
JON PERTWEE as Worzel Gummidge
UNA STUBBS as Aunt Sally
JEREMY AUSTIN as John Peters
CHARLOTTE COLEMAN as Sue Peters
GEOFFREY BAYLDON as The Crowman
MIKE BERRY as Mr Peters
MICHAEL RIPPER as Mr Shepherd
JOAN SIMS as Mrs Bloomsbury-Barton
NORMAN BIRD as Mr Braithwaite
MEGS JENKINS as Mrs Braithwaite