Mackenzie Crook on the return of Worzel Gummidge

Worzel Gummidge
(Image credit: BBC)

Fast becoming a Christmas TV fixture, Worzel Gummidge is back for the third successive Christmas in two new adventures for the lovable scarecrow and his young human friends, Susan and John.

We caught up with writer, director, and star Mackenzie Crook to find out what's in store down on Scatterbrook Farm in the Worzel Gummidge 2021 Christmas specials...

What happens in the episode called 'Twitchers'?

Worzel Gummidge

Farmer Braithwaite (Steve Pemberton, right) is reunited with his birdwatching nemesis, Lee Dangerman in ‘Twitchers’ (Image credit: BBC)

“Twitchers revolves around a flock of rare birds that have been blown into Scatterbrook by a storm, and the resulting group of twitchers [bird watchers] who follow them and set up camp around Ten Acre Field. It causes Worzel a lot of stress, because for a scarecrow to scare one of these choughs [a rare type of crow] is a big deal!

What about the second episode, 'Calliope Jane'?

“I had an idea that I’d like to see scarecrows in an old-fashioned funfair, and I tried to build a tenuous story around that! So a magical funfair comes down to Scatterbrook, which the scarecrows believe they’re allowed to have a go on after hours when all the humans have gone to sleep...”’

Any special guest stars to look out for? 

Worzel Gummidge

Bill Bailey (right) guest stars as steam fair proprietor FR Peregrine in 'Calliope Jane'. (Image credit: BBC)

“I wrote the part of Mr Peregrine, the fair owner as a magical, mysterious Willie Wonka with a twinkle in his eye and when we came to casting, Bill Bailey ticked all of those boxes. He’s become a bit of a national treasure since dancing his way to victory on Strictly!”

Was it fun to bring back Soggy Carmichael and his scarecrow biker gang?

Worzel Gummidge

Soggy Carmichael and the scarecrow biker gang rock out in 'Calliope Jane'. (Image credit: BBC)

“They were a big hit in the Green Man episode a couple of years ago, so I wanted to bring them back. In fact, I think that it was that image of them singing a rock and roll number in a funfair that inspired that episode, sort of harking back to movies from the 1950s.”

Who else is on your wish list to guest star in a future episode?

“I've always thought Bob Mortimer would look really good in in Worzel Gummidge land, whether he's a scarecrow or human character. He's got that oddness about him that would fit in really well!”

When and where can I watch the new episodes of Worzel Gummidge?

The first episode airs on BBC1 on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 7:15 pm, with the other episode following on BBC1 on Wednesday, Dec. 29 at 7:15 pm. Both specials will also be available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Ian MacEwan
Senior Writer

Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.