Have we seen the last of Worzel Gummidge?

Beloved of fans and critics, logistics might prevent further episodes of Mackenzie Crook's Worzel Gummidge – at least for the foreseeable future.

Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge

Though it only aired its first outing – The Scarecrow of Scatterbrook – back in 2019, Mackenzie Crook’s adaptation of Worzel Gummidge (based, like the Jon Pertwee-starring series that came before it, on the books by Barbara Euphan Todd) already feels like a staple of the BBC’s Christmas schedule.

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Following a Bonfire Night treat in the form of November’s Guy Forks special, this festive season saw two more typically charming episodes go out: Twitchers (aired last night on BBC One and now available on iPlayer) and tonight’s Calliope Jane, featuring a guest appearance from Bill Bailey as the owner of a travelling fair.

Crook, who made his directorial debut on the equally delightful Detectorists on BBC Four, writes and directs every episode in addition to playing the titular scarecrow and set out with the intention of the new Worzel Gummidge becoming “event television” and something that audiences would revisit “again and again”.

If these episodes become some sort of staple, that would be amazing,” he tells RadioTimes.com. “Because I think that the BBC is a place where things like that can happen. Things become embedded in our consciousness and don’t just drift away and are never seen again.”

Certainly, it’s easy to imagine the six existing episodes being trotted out every December or on a Bank Holiday Monday, like The Snowman or The Great Escape. But are repeat showings all the future holds for Worzel?

Crook says he “loves” playing the misfit mannequin, so much so that he’s willing to endure hours in the make-up chair and long shooting days “caked in silicone”. “It got really difficult, because before Worzel, I was doing [Sky series] Britannia and I directed a couple of episodes of that last year as well, and in that I’m in full prosthetics as well,” he said.

“The days when I wasn’t in prosthetics on Worzel Gummidge – I think there were 12 days throughout the nine-week shoot – those days were glorious. They were luxuries.”

But while he’s not looking to leave Scatterbrook behind just yet, Crook has revealed that logistics could end up putting Worzel Gummidge on hiatus – at least for the foreseeable future. “I’ve got a busy year next year – I’m in the West End from April onwards and I don’t know when I’d get a chance to do any next year,” he said, referring to a new run of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre which will see Crook reprise his role of Ginger opposite Mark Rylance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron.

But that’s not the only potential obstacle – were the series to return to filming 2023, Crook says that he’s unsure if his young co-stars India Brown and Thierry Wickens would still be able to play Worzel’s young human friends Susan and John. “The year after, will Thierry and India be too old to be playing those roles, and should I swap them out? There’s lots of questions to be answered.”

Worzel Gummidge: 'Guy Forks'
BBC/Leopard Pictures Ld/Adam Lawrence

He already inserted a nod to Wickens having clearly grown between shoots into the script for Guy Forks. “Have you shrunk?” Worzel asks John, who is now clearly quite a bit taller and older than he was in The Scarecrow of Scatterbrook.

“I wrote that into the script before I’d seen what had happened to him, just sort of assuming that he would’ve shot up,” Crook explains. “And indeed, he had – so I wanted to just acknowledge that in some way.”

The best case scenario for Worzel Gummidge right now is, it seems, something of a hiatus. Fingers crossed this isn’t the end for the series – there’s nothing else on TV quite as warm and good-hearted as Worzel’s adventures – but if it is, Crook says he’s “really happy” with the six films that already exit.

I think it sits as a really nice body of work. But I’m not going to rule out making more.  Because I love playing him. I really do.”

All six episodes of Worzel Gummidge are available to watch now on BBC iPlayer. Read more about the Worzel Gummidge cast and where Worzel Gummidge is filmed.

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