British acting icons Brian Blessed, Vanessa Redgrave and Shirley Henderson are to star in Worzel Gummidge‘s upcoming one-hour special, with Detectorists’ Mackenzie Crook returning to play the titular character.
The BBC commissioned a new instalment of the series, inspired by Barbara Euphan Todd’s classic books, back in September after last year’s two-part Boxing Day specials starring Zoë Wanamaker and Michael Palin received huge praise from critics.
Speaking to Radio Times magazine about the line-up of guest stars in the upcoming special, Crook said: “The fact that such brilliant people said yes to the first two episodes, people can look at that cast and go, ‘I’d like to be in that club,’ so it gets easier to cast great people.”
Henderson, best known for her roles in the Harry Potter film franchise and Bridget Jones, is set to play Saucy Nancy, a ship’s figurehead whom Worzel and his friends find in a junkyard, while Academy Award-winner Vanessa Redgrave features as Peg, an old seawoman living in a shipwreck on the beach.
Meanwhile Steve Pemberton (Inside No. 9) and Rosie Cavaliero (Unforgotten) will return as Mr and Mrs Braithwaite, as will India Brown (Susan) and Thierry Wickens (John).
Speaking about the upcoming special, Crook revealed that the episode is full of jokes “that only the adults will get and slapstick bits for very young children”.
“So these words Saucy Nancy uses are funny to a child, but some of them sound almost shocking to an adult. But you can’t touch me because they’re not actually swearwords! Some of them we actually thought, ‘Are we going to get away with this, because they sound awful..?'”
Henderson told Radio Times that she found the script’s eccentric phrases difficult to memorise, adding: “I had to keep at it many times a day so it wouldn’t be a struggle when we came to film it. The other characters’ lines don’t latch onto what you’re about to say. There’s no thread. So I had to use a lot of repetition to learn it.”
Worzel Gummidge’s first two episodes received five stars in the RadioTimes.com review, which described the specials as “funny, poignant and heartwarming”.
Read the interview with the cast of Worzel Gummidge in full in Radio Times magazine, on sale from Tuesday 24th November.