It’s Worzel Gummidge’s Guy Forks special

Saturday:Worzel Gummidge: Guy Forks; (BBC1, 5.45pm)

When it was announced that Mackenzie Crook was writing, directing and starring in a new version of Worzel Gummidge, some people were a little bit sceptical.

Many of them had fond memories of the 1970s TV series starring Jon Pertwee as the loveable scarecrow – or slightly more disturbing memories of being scared when he swapped heads. And while Worzel’s head stays firmly in place in the new adaptation, the first photos of Crook in his makeup left some people wondering if this new take would be equally creepy.

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Luckily, when audiences tuned into the first two episodes over Christmas 2019, they were treated to a thoroughly charming, funny family comedy, which drew inspiration from the original books by Barbara Euphan Todd while bringing them into the 21st century.

John, Worzel Gummidge and Susan

As Crook says: “The original stories, they’re kind of difficult to bring up to date, they’re very of their time, in the 1930s. Not much of what they’re talking about is relevant, but the characters and the feel of it is still relevant, and so I’ve got this luxury of picking out the bits I like from the books and weaving my own stories around them which sometimes feels like a liberty. But I’m sure Barbara Euphan Todd would have appreciated what we’re doing with it – bringing it up to date in a kind and caring and environmentally-friendly way.”

The first instalments were such a hit, they were followed by another film, which aired last year on Christmas Eve.

So, many people will be glad to see that Worzel’s back again, although they may initially be surprised that the BBC hasn’t saved this adventure for Christmas. However, as the title suggests, this latest episode deserves to be seen closer to Bonfire Night.

Paul Kaye co-stars as Worzel’s cousin, Guy Forks, who has arrived at Scatterbrook in time to go on top of the bonfire, but a row between the relatives about who could do the other’s job better leads to them switching places.

Guy Forks

The village committee (all six members of which are played by Crook’s Dectorists co-star Toby Jones) is too distracted to notice the substitution, so it’s looks like it’s up to Worzel’s human friends John (Thierry Wickens) and Susan to find a way to rescue the scarecrow before it’s too late. At least they have Aunt Sally (Vicki Pepperdine) to help them.

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It’s to be hoped Worzel does make it off the bonfire in one piece, as he’ll soon be seen in two more adventures.

It’s been announced that the next instalment in the offing is Twitchers, which sees a flock of rare choughs descend on Scatterbook Farm. Worzel is excited about the chance to scare such a rare bird, but when word gets out it becomes clear that he isn’t the only one who wants to get closer to the feathered visitors.

There’s more excitement in Calliope Jane, as a travelling fair arrives. Legend has it that there’s an enchanted organ which sends humans to sleep so that scarecrows can enjoy the rides without being seen, but dare he and his friends take the risk?

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