Another new character is introduced this week. She’s played by Joan Sims and is called Mrs. Bloomsbury-Barton, and with a name like that she’s just asking for it in this show. Worzel confronts her in a country lane, looking for somebody to take his place on the scarecrow post for the afternoon. But Sims, a great comedy actress with a long list of credits, is really left in the dust by this episode’s other new addition.
Part of the joy in Worzel Gummidge is that the title character is really remarkably selfish and rude, but the show finds terrific comedy in this, in part because Worzel is a little too dense to realize that his selfishness could be hurtful. But then there’s Aunt Sally, who might very well be the most breathtakingly selfish and rude character in television history. Aunt Sally is played by Una Stubbs, who probably had to have a long bath at the end of every shoot just to wash all the awfulness from her.
Aunt Sally is a living aunt sally – a fairground attraction that guests threw heavy balls at to knock over – and Worzel falls helplessly in love with her as soon as he hears that she exists. And Aunt Sally sees this weakness instantly and exploits it. A really good TV villain can be counted on to take advantage of our heroes’ good qualities, but in the world of children’s television, there aren’t any so astonishingly ruthless as Aunt Sally. I mean, the instant Worzel admits that the word “bonfire” frightens him, Aunt Sally fixes him with the evillest eyes on the planet and silently mouths the word in his face. Witchiepoo, Benita Bizarre, and Hoo Doo are lined up outside the fairground tent to get her autograph. Worzel literally ends the episode in tears because she’s destroyed his straw heart. It’s all fun and games until a scarecrow cries.
I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.