Worzel Gummidge 6.12 – The Bestest Scarecrow

Tonight we finally reached the end of Worzel Gummidge, and what a fun ride it was. The last episode sees the Crowman contracted to provide the best possible scarecrow to Zoo Nealand’s governor general, and so it turns into a competition, an Olympic Games if you like, between Worzel, Blighty Tater, Wattle Hearthbrush, and two others. This is interesting, because all five are barely competent messes without any self-control. As much as we like the local Crowman, we can’t help but notice that just about all of the scarecrows in Britain did what they were told for the most part, and stayed in their assigned fields. Worzel was the exception; down under it’s the rule.

So we bid goodbye to Ellie Smith’s and Danny Mulheron’s characters just as we were getting to know them. Jon Pertwee kept pushing to get somebody to make more episodes – after all, it meant lucrative personal appearance fees if he had a series on television – but 53 installments was the limit, which is more than a lot of British kids’ shows managed. Our son enjoyed them all, and even if I raised an eyebrow sometimes about the last two series, they were usually able to do something new and strange and, often, really funny. There’s a gag in this one about a sandwich gone green with mold that had us giggling uncontrollably. It’s an absolutely fine show, and even if I wish it all could have been restored properly before repackaging it, I’m very glad I bought the set. We had a blast.

Image: 45 Worlds.

Worzel Gummidge 6.10 and 6.11

I’ve said a hundred times that one of the joys of Worzel Gummidge is that anything human-shaped can come to life. Episode eleven is set at a convent where the sisters are in need of a scarecrow to get the pigeons off their roof. The camera briefly shows us a statue of the Virgin Mary. Okay, so not that. They wouldn’t dare. Almost anything.

Anyway, these final twelve episodes were made in two batches of six a year apart. Una Stubbs was not available for the second block, so the episodes were shuffled around when shown so that Aunt Sally would not vanish halfway through. Episode ten is her final appearance, and episode eleven introduces a new female foil, a scarecrow named Wattle Hearthbrush played by Ellie Smith. Interestingly, the Zoo Nealand Crowman is unfamiliar with making female scarecrows and is unsure whether they can be given life. Back in the UK, of course, we’d seen several, including Worzel’s own mother.

Actually, I liked the episode with Wattle much more than what turned out to be Aunt Sally’s finale. The kid just about lost his mind laughing when Sally becomes part of a wacky modern artist’s latest canvas – this was twenty years since “Pop Goes the Joker” and teevee was still just going for the laziest possible shot in mocking modern art – but it didn’t break any new ground. Wattle Hearthbrush promises something new, and that’s much more interesting. And you can’t go wrong with Pertwee dressed as a nun and causing mayhem in a convent, even if the Virgin Mary stays right where she is.

Image: 45 Worlds.