Worzel Gummidge, 1979

It has been said that Worzel Gummidge was the one role Jon Pertwee felt completely satisfied with.

Worzel Gummidge was a children’s sitcom, produced by Southern Television for ITV, based on the  books by English author Barbara Euphan Todd.

Starting in 1979, the programme ran for four series in the UK until 1981.  When Southern lost its franchise, the new franchise-holder, TVS, did not renew the show, despite a massive press campaign led by the Daily Star.

Attempts were made to continue the series, produced independently by Southern for the BBC and then to be produced in Ireland. However neither attempt was successful.  HTV plans fell through because of trade union problems, as did attempts by the same company to make further episodes in England, although the scripts that Waterhouse & Hall had written for the Irish episodes were published in book form.

Jon Pertwee and Stubbs did reprise their roles briefly; in the musical Worzel Gummidge.  This was in 1981 at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and also starred Lucy Benjamin (then Lucy Jane Baker) as Sue.

Jon Pertwee’s final TV appearance as Worzel was in 1995, to celebrate 40 years of ITV.

By 1987 the show was still in limbo until Television New Zealand, in association with Channel 4 commissioned Worzel Gummidge Down Under in 1987.  Shot on location in New Zealand it ran for two series totalling a further 22 episodes. Only Pertwee and Stubbs remained from the original cast.

Occasional guest appearances were made by big TV stars of the time and appeal to a family audience – Barbara Windsor as Saucy Nancy, a ship’s figurehead, Billy Connolly as a Scottish piper scarecrow, Bill Maynard as Sergeant Beetroot, Joan Sims as Mrs Bloomsbury-Barton, the local aristocrat, Lorraine Chase as Dolly Clothes-peg, a shop window mannequin, Bernard Cribbins as Jolly Jack, a ship’s figurehead, David Lodge, Mike Reid and Connie Booth as Aunt Sally II, a kind hearted Aunt Sally, who falls in love with Worzel.

Summary

Worzel Gummidge is a scarecrow that comes to life.  Living in Ten Acre Field, he often visits the nearby village of Scatterbrook.  Here he befriends two children, brother and sister John and Sue Peters, who are often left trying to clear up the messes he creates.

A good deal of the show’s entertainment/comedic value comes from the interaction between Worzel and Aunt Sally, played with relish by  Jon Pertwee and  Una Stubbs.

In Worzel Gummidge Down Under the story continues as Worzel follows his beloved Aunt Sally to New Zealand after she is sold to a museum owner.

Clips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cast

Worzel Gummidge – Jon Pertwee
Aunt Sally – Una Stubbs
Aunt Sally II – Connie Booth
The Crowman – Geoffrey Bayldon
John – Jeremy Austin
Sue – Charlotte Coleman
Mr. Peters – Mike Berry
Sgt. Beetroot – Bill Maynard
Pickles Brambles – Wayne Norman
Mr. Braithwaite – Norman Bird
Mrs. Braithwaite – Megs Jenkins
Mrs. Bloomsbury-Barton – Joan Sims
Enid Simmons – Sarah Thomas
Mr. Sheperd – Michael Ripper
Cobber Gummidge – Alex Scott
PC Parsons – Norman Mitchell
Saucy Nancy – Barbara Windsor
Dolly Clothes-Peg – Lorraine Chase
Jolly Jack – Bernard Cribbins

Details

Channel: ITV
Written By: Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall (TV series)
Characters Created By: Barbara Euphan Todd
Original Transmission Dates: 25th February 1979 – 12th December 1981 (UK version)

 

 

 

[2] On a countdown of the greatest British children’s programmes, this series was number 50 in the 50 Greatest Kids TV Shows which aired on Channel 5 on 8 November 2013.

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