BBC 'Worzel Gummidge' reboot faces 'impossible' task, says original cast member

Tom Beasley
Mackenzie Crook will play the title role in a new BBC reboot of 'Worzel Gummidge', which originally starred Jon Pertwee. (Credit: BBC)

The BBC’s forthcoming reboot of children’s show Worzel Gummidge is destined to be “up against it”, according to one of the stars of the beloved original.

Mike Berry, who played Mr Peters in the classic show from 1979 to 1981, said new leading man Mackenzie Crook faces an “impossible” task in matching the impact of former Doctor Who actor Jon Pertwee, who portrayed the original Worzel on TV.

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Berry told The Sun that the new adaptation of Barbara Todd’s children’s books, published between 1936 and 1963, was a symptom of a lack of imagination.

“Everything has been done. And these shows do run out of ideas,” he said.

British actor Jon Pertwee (1919 - 1996) appearing at Trafalgar Square as Worzel Gummidge. (Photo by Mike Lawn/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Berry expressed concerns that Crook, who is also writing and directing the show, will struggle to match Pertwee’s indelible work.

He said: “They don’t come much better than [Pertwee] for this sort of thing. I think the remake is going to be up against it.

“I’m wary of the Worzel remake for their own benefit because Jon Pertwee could be extremely hard, if not impossible, to match, let alone top.”

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The original run of Worzel Gummidge aired on ITV in the UK from 1979 to 1981, telling the story of the titular scarecrow and his adventures in the village of Scatterbrook.

He was in love with fairground doll Aunt Sally, played by Una Stubbs.

Berry thinks Bodyguard star Keeley Hawes would be a good choice to portray that role in the remake.

“I’d be quite keen on her,” he said. “Aunt Sally is supposed to be a bit of a dish in scarecrow terms because she’s a fairground doll.”

Actress Keeley Hawes poses for photographers on arrival at the 2019 BAFTA Television Awards in London, Sunday, May 12, 2019.(Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP)

Four series of Worzel Gummidge aired until the production company lost the rights and the new owner chose to can the show.

It was briefly revived for two series of Worzel Gummidge Down Under, based in New Zealand.

This spin-off handed an early credit to special effects artist Peter Jackson, who would of course go on to become the Oscar-winning director of the Lord of the Rings movies.

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No airdate has been announced for the new Worzel Gummidge adaptation, but it will take the form of two 60-minute films.