Mackenzie Crook in the Worzel Gummidge reboot: see the first photo

8 June 2019, 08:00 | Updated: 8 June 2019, 08:01

Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge
Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge. Picture: BBC/Leopard Pictures/Matt Burlem

The star of The Office and Detectorists is taking on the role of the walking, talking scarecrow in a new BBC series.

This is the first look at Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge, the lovable scarecrow that comes to life and causes havoc in a small village in a series of children’s stories.

The actor - who is probably best known as the nerdy Gareth Keenan in The Office, along with roles in Pirates Of The Caribbean and Game Of Thrones - will star in a modern adaptation of the books by Barbara Euphan Todd for two hour long films for the BBC.

Crook, who also stars in the BBC comedy The Detectorists, has written and directed the new adaptation. He says of the role: “I’m thrilled to be back working with the BBC and many members of the Detectorists team to bring Worzel Gummidge to a new generation of viewers and reintroduce him to old friends.

“I’ve completely fallen for her charming, irreverent scarecrow. Fingers crossed for a glorious English summer as we head out to Scatterbrook Farm and Worzel’s Ten Acre Field.”

The first episode is called The Scarecrow Of Scatterbrook, in which two children, Susan and John, encounter Worzel Gummidge, the Scarecrow of Ten Acre Field. Their world upturned when they realise Gummidge comes to life - and Worzel is equally shocked when he discovers that the children are not in fact fellow scarecrows but humans.

The second episode, The Green Man, concerns the creator of scarecrows and keeper of scarecrow lore, who isn’t happy that Worzel is communicating with humans. There’s also the matter of a local fete that features a scarecrow competition that Worzel is determined to win.

The original book was published in 1936, but it’s not the first time that Worzel Gummidge has been adapted for TV of course - former Doctor Who Jon Pertwee played the belligerent scarecrow in a series for ITV between 1979 and 1981.

Jon Pertwee as Worzel Gummidge and Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally, February 1981
Jon Pertwee as Worzel Gummidge and Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally, February 1981. Picture: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

The response to Mackenzie Crook’s make-up as Worzel has ranged from delight to pure terror, with one commentator saying “It's TERRIFYING! JUST LOOK AT IT!”

Some tweeters were comparing Crook’s appearance in the role to Pertwee’s take on the character: “I can see Mackenzie Crook doing well as Gummidge but I'm not sold on the design just yet. It'll be hard to top Jon Pertwee.”

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