Worzel Gummidge 2019 brings the books of Barbara Euphan Todd back to the small screen once again, the premise beginning with kids Susan (India Brown) and John (Thierry Wickens) seeing a scarecrow moving in the field, while on their way to live with the Braithwaites (accommodating Rosie Cavaliero and nowty Steve Pemberton), after living in a foster home.
For me, the main obstacle to overcome is that I affectionately remember the Jon Pertwee series from the ’70s and ’80s, and so even after all this time it’s difficult to see someone else in the role. Similarly, I could never get into the US version of The Office, so I could never *get* someone else in the ‘Gareth’ role, so now, it’s come full circle.
That said, talking about decades, at one point, Susan refers to the ’90s as “the olden days“.
In the first episode, Worzel has an issue with the weather, saying something is up with it. I kept expecting him to get all ‘woke’ and start blabbering about ‘climate change’. However, it’s not too long before a different environmental message is wrapped around your brain with a mallet, as Worzel moans about plastic bags caught up in a tree, which he refers to as ‘jellyfish’. I don’t remember a half-as -sed educational lesson turning up in the original series – I just wanted 30 minutes of simple escapism.
It’s just over halfway into the first episode when Aunt Sally is introduced, and again, Vicki Pepperdine is fine in the role, but for me, there’s only Una Stubbs. Here, Vicki Pepperdine is always Vicki Pepperdine, whatever she’s in.
Also, I could criticise Mackenzie Crook’s rubber mask, but then Pertwee just had mud on his face. Then again, there are occasionally times when some CGI is used on Crook’s eyes when he’s stuck high up in the field with the kids below him, which does look a little… unfinished, and the preview I saw wasn’t listed as unfinished in any way.
That said, when we do get a group of scarecrows together, it looks more like the stuff of nightmares after a bad LSD trip!
Overall, I can see what they’re trying to achieve with this, but it just doesn’t work for me. This certainly doesn’t need to last an hour per episode, but then again, once you’ve spent the money on the costume, you may as well fill an hour instead of half-an-hour.
Episode 2 was more of the same, albeit with Michael Palin added as the titular Green Man, the man who builds scarecrows – so, presumably, this series’ Crowman… or is he just the gardener? Time will tell… as it will to show whether or not we get more of this. We probably will.
Worzel Gummidge 2019 isn’t yet available to pre-order on DVD, but you can buy the original Worzel Gummidge Complete Collection DVD.
Episode 1 is now on the BBC iPlayer, and it continues tomorrow night at 7pm.
Episode 1 Score: 2/10
Episode 2 Score: 2/10
Director: Mackenzie Crook
Producer: Georgie Fallon
Writer: Mackenzie Crook
Worzel Gummidge: Mackenzie Crook
Mr Braithwaite: Steve Pemberton
Mrs Braithwaite: Rosie Cavaliero
Susan: India Brown
John: Thierry Wickens
Aunt Sally: Vicki Pepperdine
The Green Man: Michael Palin
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.