I’m in the Sunflower Valley Hilton, sipping locally-produced organic cranberry cordial and feeling nervous. No, I’m not about to make a first ascent of any of the unfeasibly pointy mountains; I’m here to interview one of the resident stars, and he has a reputation as a bit of a wild man – the Joker in Bob the Builder’s pack, saucepan-wearing crow-bating scarecrow Spud.
And here he suddenly is, bounding over with an outstretched hand and a “Hello!” in that familiar scratchy voice. He’s taller than I expected and somehow smellier. He gets straight to the point. “Let’s talk about me!” So we do.
You’ve been working for Farmer Pickles for about 12 years now, but you had many years before that as a jobbing TV scarecrow before you got the big break and became famous. Was there anybody in particular who inspired you to keep going?
Yeah (laughs), I had some hard years. Did you see the Christmas Eve episode of Emmerdale, 1988? Car drives by a muddy field in driving rain? Scarecrow seen for two seconds in the far distance? That’s me. Took four days to get that shot, up to my knees in horse manure… Worzel Gummage was my big inspiration, my role model if you will. He showed everybody that scarecrows had, you know, a depth to them. That we weren’t just a bundle of sticks in a silly coat. He pushed the boundaries, broke the mould. We all owe him a lot. Me and…well, me.
Oh, Scrambler’s a great guy! There’s much more to him than you get to see on the screen. He has a spare trailer that’s red and purple as well as that blue one. Squawk – well, him and me go way back. He loves me. That’s why he follows me around being annoying.
Why do you think Spud is such a popular character? Can you explain your success?
I think people like me because I’m complex. I’m not one-dimensional; I’m flawed, I’m always making mistakes, but I’m always growing. In each episode I get something wrong but then I learn from it. And then in the next episode I do it all over again.
And you’re a bit of a sex symbol, aren’t you? Was that a surprise?
Heh (looks modest). This woman keeps writing to me asking if I want any viagra. Obviously trying to get my attention. It’s the legs, I think.
I get a nose job about once a month.