Following on from Gavin and Stacey making a comeback, another old favourite returned to our screens on Boxing Day. Worzel Gummidge is Mackenzie Crook’s take on the classic children’s book. For many of us, there will only be one Worzel (all be it with 3 heads) and that was John Pertwee. The 1979 series was probably the only exposure many of us had to the character (the books were never that big in the 1970’s) and you will still hear people of a certain age declaring it is time for a “a cup of tea and a nice slice of cake”.
So how did the new incarnation fair? Well the first thing to say is that he looks nothing like the Pertwee version. Worzel in the 1970’s was obviously an actor with a few bits of straw stuck on his head for his hair. The 2019 version has a realistic (if terrifying) turnip head. You do get the impression that physically, this was the job that Mackenzie Crooke was born to play. This or Skeletor.
We are big fans of Mackenzie here at Shouting at the Telly, especially his work on Detectorists. You get the impression that all that time spent in fields had an influence on him as the feel (and music by The Unthanks) seem to come straight out of that show. The stories have been subtly updated; the children come from a more diverse background and there was a definite message about the perils of plastic bags on the environment in the first episode.
One thing that has definitely improved has been the jokes. There were some real laugh out loud gags including a decent fart gag, o and the opening scene of the second episode when a small boy is made to crawl over a series of obstacles that wouldn’t be out of place in a set up for an episode of Casualty. All this and Vicky Pepperdine makes a wonderful Aunt Sally.
Again, like Gavin and Stacey, the show has a warmth and heart that makes it wonderful family viewing. Hopefully there will be more episodes in the future. I’m off now for “a cup of tea and a nice slice of cake”.