Worzel Gummidge

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Worzel Gummidge
Worzel Gummidge character
First appearanceWorzel Gummidge
(by Barbara Euphan Todd, 1936) (Book)
Last appearanceThe Bestest Scarecrow
(Worzel Gummidge Down Under, 1989) (TV)
Created byBarbara Euphan Todd
Portrayed byJon Pertwee
Information
SpeciesScarecrow
GenderMale
FamilySally (aunt)
 
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Worzel Gummidge
Worzel Gummidge character
First appearanceWorzel Gummidge
(by Barbara Euphan Todd, 1936) (Book)
Last appearanceThe Bestest Scarecrow
(Worzel Gummidge Down Under, 1989) (TV)
Created byBarbara Euphan Todd
Portrayed byJon Pertwee
Information
SpeciesScarecrow
GenderMale
FamilySally (aunt)

Worzel Gummidge is a character in British children's fiction who originally appeared in a series of books by the novelist Barbara Euphan Todd.[1] A walking, talking scarecrow, Gummidge has a set of interchangeable turnip, mangel worzel and swede heads, each of which suit a particular occasion or endow him with a specific skill.

The books were adapted for radio and television a number of times, most successfully with former Doctor Who actor Jon Pertwee taking the lead role from 1979 to 1981 on ITV; originally produced in the UK, but later in New Zealand.

Outline[edit]

Worzel Gummidge was a scarecrow that could come to life on Scatterbrook Farm. Worzel spent more time trying to win the affections of Aunt Sally than actually protecting the farm from crows. Aunt Sally was a fairground doll who Worzel fell in love with. He also befriended John and Susan, two children who often had to cover up after him and help him get out of trouble. Worzel had a collection of interchangeable heads; each suiting a particular occasion or allowing him to perform a certain task. More often than not Worzel's plans and adventures ended in mishap for all involved.

Books[edit]

The first paperback version of the first book, released in 1941, has the distinction of being the first story book published by the famous children's imprint Puffin.

Adaptations[edit]

Children's Hour[edit]

The first broadcast with Worzel was before World War II on the BBC's Children's Hour. By 1946, Worzel was played by veteran radio actor Philip Wade, John by John Clark, Susan by Rosamund Barnes, and Earthy Mangold by Mabel Constanduros. Later, Worzel was played by Denis Folwell, who went on to play Jack Archer in the long-running BBC radio 4 soap opera The Archers.[1]

Jackanory[edit]

In July 1967 five Worzel Gummidge stories were read on Jackanory by Gordon Rollings.

1979-81 television series[edit]

Southern Television's production for ITV was written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, and starred Jon Pertwee as Worzel, with Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally, a life-size fairground doll and Worzel's femme fatale.[2] This was a significant change from the original books, where Aunt Sally is, in fact, Worzel's aunt. The Crowman, who made Worzel and some of his other scarecrow friends, was played by Geoffrey Bayldon better known for his starring role as the title character of Catweazle. Bill Maynard also appeared as a scarecrow called Sergeant Beetroot.

Worzel Gummidge Down Under[edit]

Television New Zealand and Channel 4 (UK) co-funded a follow-up series that ran for two seasons in 1987 and 1989, with Worzel Gummidge and Aunt Sally, still played by Pertwee and Stubbs, relocated to New Zealand.

References and notes[edit]