Meet the cast of Worzel Gummidge

Who’s who in Mackenzie Crook’s new take on the scarecrow of Scatterbrook

Worzel Gummidge

It may be set in summer, but Mackenzie Crook’s reimagining of Barbara Euphan Todd’s Worzel Gummidge books fully embraces the Christmas spirit. The two one-hour specials, titled The Scarecrow of Scatterbrook and The Green Man, will air on BBC One on Thursday 26th December at 6:20pm and Friday 27th December at 7pm.

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The mischievous scarecrow was first brought to life by Doctor Who’s Jon Pertwee back in the 70s, when ITV adapted Euphan Todd’s work into the iconic children’s sitcom. As well as taking on the turnip-headed scarecrow mantle, Mackenzie Crook also writes and directs. He is joined by an ensemble cast that includes Sir Michael Palin and Zoë Wanamaker.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of who’s who:

Mackenzie Crook plays Worzel Gummidge

Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge
BBC/Leopard Pictures/Matt Burlem

Who is Worzel Gummidge? The irascible titular scarecrow is the main character in Euphan Todd’s Puffin Books series. He lives in Ten Acre Field and befriends children Susan and John, becoming inanimate whenever his pride is wounded (which is rather often). Mackenzie Crook’s version is gentler than Jon Pertwee’s.

What else has Mackenzie Crook been in? The man in the turnip mask made his name as deluded assistant regional manager – sorry, assistant to the regional manager – Gareth Keenan in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s seminal mockumentary The Office. After that, he found success in Hollywood, as one-eyed sea dog Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean mega-franchise, and was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway transfer of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem. The 48-year-old can also be seen – again in heavy prosthetics – as the skull-headed shaman Veran in Butterworth’s trippy Sky Atlantic Roman invasion drama Britannia. But arguably his crowning achievement to date is writing, directing and starring in three series of the BAFTA-winning BBC sitcom Detectorists.

Steve Pemberton plays Mr Braithwaite

Steve Pemberton Worzel Gummidge
BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle

Who is Mr Braithwaite?  He is the rather grumpy farmer who doesn’t realise his scarecrow has the uncanny ability to come to life. He usually blames the children for the messes the turnip-headed stick figure leaves behind. He was played by Norman Bird in the ITV adaptation of the classic tale.

What else has Steve Pemberton been in? As one of The League of Gentlemen, Steve created a menagerie of comic grotesques including Tubbs, Royston Vasey’s murderous, porcine-nosed keeper of the local shop for local people, and Pauline, the sadistic restart officer with a passion for pens and a burning hatred of ‘dole scum’. Since then, he’s barely been off our screens, with roles in everything from Whitechapel and Happy Valley to Midsomer Murders and Doctor Who, as well as spending eight years by the pool as Mick Garvey in ITV’s sunburn and sangria sitcom Benidorm. In partnership with fellow Leaguer Reece Shearsmith, the 52-year-old has also continued to probe the darker corners of TV comedy in macabre sitcom Psychoville and the brilliant, BAFTA-winning anthology series Inside No 9.

Rosie Cavaliero plays Mrs Braithwaite

BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle
BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle

Who is Mrs Braithwaite? Mr Braithwaite’s strong-willed wife runs Scatterbrook Farm alongside her husband. She isn’t all that fond of the titular scarecrow, who she thinks has seen better days. Originally played by Megs Jenkins, she spends her days bossing Susan and John around and trying to get rid of Worzel.

What else has Rosie Cavaliero been in? With more than 50 screen credits, Rosie is one of the busiest actors in Britain. Notable roles include troubled nurse Marion Kelsey in the second series of Unforgotten, Anne Lister’s maid Elizabeth in Sally Wainwright’s recent Gentleman Jack, and jilted wife Wendy in John Cleese sitcom Hold the Sunset. She also starred as DS Susan Reinhart in two series of ITV crime thriller Prey. Earlier this year, the 52-year-old was seen as Frances in Cleaning Up, starring Sheridan Smith, who she first worked with on the 2003 bingo sitcom Eyes Down, starring Paul O’Grady.

Vicki Pepperdine plays Aunt Sally

Vicki Pepperdine plays Aunt Sally
BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle

Who is Aunt Sally? Una Stubbs played the fairground doll in the 70s, but Mackenzie Crook’s eerie version is closer to the one in Euphan Todd’s books. Instead of his love interest, Aunt Sally is Worzel’s actual aunt, who has been left to rot in a museum and is not exactly thrilled about it.

What else has Vicki Pepperdine been in? Like Mackenzie Crook, 58-year-old Pepperdine is as happy bashing out scripts as performing them. With Jo Brand and Joanna Scanlan, she co-wrote the award-winning hospital sitcom Getting On, in which she played Dr Pippa Moore, a geriatric care consultant whose bedside manner left something to be desired. On radio, she was one half of comedy duo Hudson and Pepperdine, with Melanie Hudson, and she currently hosts a podcast, Dear Joan and Jericha, with her friend Julia Davis, who also cast her in her TV comedies Camping, Nighty Night and Sall4Ever. Vicki played Princess Anne in Channel 4 comedy The Windsors, while recent film roles include Goodbye Christopher Robin and Johnny English Strikes Again.

Zoë Wanamaker plays Lady Bloomsbury Barton

Zoe Wanamaker Zoë Wanamaker plays Lady Bloomsbury Barton
BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle

Who is Lady Bloomsbury Barton? Lady Bloomsbury Barton is the eccentric local lady of the manor, with whom Worzel takes tea despite lacking the insides to absorb it. The aristocrat was a bit of a freeloader in the first Worzel series, and was driven around in a Rolls-Royce by her chauffeur Humphrey.

What else has Zoë Wanamaker been in? The daughter of American actor and producer Sam Wanamaker, Zoë’s stage career – including extensive engagements with both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre – has earned her two Olivier Awards and seven nominations, along with four Tony nominations for her work on Broadway. On screen, she received BAFTA nods for her roles in the original Prime Suspect and the romantic comedy drama Love Hurts. In more recent years, she has been best known for playing Susan Harper in the BBC sitcom My Family, Ariadne Oliver in Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Princess Marie in Mr Selfridge. And of course, she earned her place in the Hogwarts hall of fame as Madam Hooch in the first Harry Potter film. Zoë, who turned 70 in May, was made a CBE in 2001 for services to drama.

Michael Palin plays The Green Man

Michael Palin plays The Green Man
BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle

Who is The Green Man? He is the creator of all scarecrows, including Worzel, and keeper of scarecrow lore. The Green Man is more akin to Worzel’s mysterious creator in the books, rather than the Crowman from Pertwee’s Worzel Gummidge. He isn’t pleased when he learns Worzel has befriended humans.

What else has Michael Palin been in? Actor, writer, comedian, traveller, Python… national treasures don’t come much more cherished than Sir Michael. As one sixth of the Monty Python team, he starred in such iconic skits as the Dead Parrot sketch, The Spanish Inquisition and the Fish-Slapping Dance, as well as performing The Lumberjack Song. He teamed up with fellow Python Terry Jones to co-write and star in the 70s comedy anthology Ripping Yarns, and won a BAFTA for his role in the 1988 film A Fish Called Wanda. The same year, he embarked on a journey Around the World in 80 Days, the first of many TV travel documentaries that have since taken him Pole to Pole, Full Circle and, most recently into North Korea. From 2009-20012, he was also president of the Royal Geographical Society.

Having previously been made a CBE and a BAFTA fellow, Sir Michael, 76, received a knighthood in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to travel, culture and geography.

Francesca Mills plays Earthy Mangold

Francesca Mills as Earthy Mangold in Worzel Gummidge
BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle

Who is Earthy Mangold? In the books, Earthy Mangold is Worzel’s wife and will likely be his love interest in the upcoming adaptation. The character did not appear in the 70s series.

What else has Francesca Mills been in? Most recently seen as Cherry Dorrington in period drama Harlots, Francesca’s other credits include Zoolander 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Colin Michael Carmichael plays Soggy Boggart

Who is Soggy Boggart? Soggy Boggart is Worzel’s marrow-headed rival. In Mackenzie Crook’s version, he wears a leather jacket and is the ruffian leader of a scarecrow biker gang.

What else has Colin Michael Carmichael been in? Colin has worked extensively in the theatre, including producing shows with his own company, called – rather brilliantly – Brian. His film and TV credits include Hot Fuzz, St Trinian’s 2, Burke and Hare, Black Mirror and EastEnders.

India Brown and Thierry Wickens play Susan and John

India Brown Thierry Wickens in Worzel Gummidge
BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle

Who are Susan and John? Siblings Susan and John are foster children. They’ve come to Scatterbrook for the summer to work as farmhands for the Braithwaites. Initially, they’re very attached to their smartphones and struggle to adapt to life in Scatterbrook, but that changes when Worzel takes them under his wing.

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What else have India Brown and Thierry Wickens been in? India has previously appeared in Silent Witness and The Athena. Prior to Worzel, her most prominent role was Amber in last year’s Christmas TV adaptation of David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang. Worzel Gummidge marks Thierry Wickens TV debut.