Worzel Gummidge is getting a reboot, with Mackenzie Crook now playing the turnip-headed scarecrow. He chats to Georgia Humphreys about the "gruelling" filming process, plus his hopes for the future.

Mackenzie Crook's transformation into Worzel Gummidge took three hours each day.

But the Maidstone-born actor - known for The Office, Pirates Of The Caribbean and The Detectorists - found the time spent in make-up "as good as a warm up. It's meditation time".

The 48-year-old has written and directed the two one-hour films about the walking, talking scarecrow - who originally appeared in a series of books by Barbara Euphan Todd - for BBC One, as well as taking on the titular character.

Getting Worzel's look right was a long process, as he knew it was "crucial" to the piece.

"I was worried; get it slightly wrong and he looks creepy. But at the same time, he's a scarecrow - he's meant to be scary, to crows."

"He's got to be likeable," he continues. "We went through various different tests and the first time I tried it all on, I found his voice straight away.

"It's funny, improvising is not my thing, but when we were filming, one day a bunch of primary school kids came in to watch and I went over, and I was able to interact and talk to them as Worzel, and I've never been able to do that before. So that was a lovely thing."

Many viewers will remember kind-hearted Worzel Gummidge being on our screens before; it ran for four series on ITV from 1979, with Jon Pertwee in the lead role.

And the new adaptation is ideal family entertainment this festive season, with jokes for adults and children alike.

"Such a relief to hear people laughing!" utters a reserved Crook, following a screening of the episodes in a London hotel.

He has created scenes which really tug on the heartstrings too, while giving us a warming throwback to summer in the beautiful English countryside (it was mainly filmed in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire).

In the first episode, two young strangers, Susan and John, arrive in the village of Scatterbrook. It's not long before the siblings encounter Worzel Gummidge, the Scarecrow of Ten Acre Field - and they realise he comes to life.

The second film is perhaps even more exciting, with Michael Palin starring as The Green Man, the creator of scarecrows and keeper of scarecrow lore (and let's just say he isn't at all happy that Worzel is consorting with humans).

Interestingly, there is an important conservation message weaved throughout both stories; for example, the issue of plastic pollution features.

Crook is hopeful things can change when it comes to awareness around protecting the environment in the future.

"Kids are so on board with this message. I hate that - 'so on board' - but they're all over it.

"I brought my daughter [Scout, aged 12] into the edit, and we walked past Starbucks on the way in, and I said, 'Do you want to get a drink?' And she said, 'We can't, I haven't got my [reusable] cup'.

"It wouldn't even cross her mind to use a takeaway cup. It's important to children, and rightly so."

There's a notable reference to the ban on fox hunting with dogs, too (which came into effect in 2004); Worzel brings it up as an example of how life in the countryside can change, when talking to The Green Man.

"Traditions are all very well, but as soon as they become harmful, you have to say, 'Alright, let's get rid of that tradition'," suggests Crook. "So, I wasn't trying to make any sort of political point with that... But ways can change, I suppose. That's what it is."

His love of nature definitely helped inspire the show. A few years back the father-of-two (he and wife Lindsay also have son Jude, 16, together) purchased his own plot of woodland in Essex.

"I go metal detecting, which is countryside meditation really. I'm outdoors all the time, in my garden. I don't watch much TV, I don't watch much screens."

He does plan for the family to tune into Worzel Gummidge though.

"I think we'll save that for Boxing Day. I want people to watch it with other people and without earphones in. That's the idea."

On the topic of life outside work, down-to-earth Crook says this was an easy role to switch off from after filming.

"It's not like it was a traumatic role," he quips.

"It's funny, I can sort of snap into him; my whole writing process is being up on my feet and speaking the words and improvising and then writing them down.

"He's a big cartoon character, so it's not like I'm taking my work home with me, and my wife is annoyed that I can't shake Worzel off."

But he confides the process - directing whilst in the prosthetics - was "gruelling".

"I've got this memory of me just not wanting to talk to anyone; it was hard work, and I've got this horrible feeling that I was grumpy on set. But nobody else has said this...

"Throughout the shoot, I had four/five days where I didn't have to get into the makeup, I could just direct, and that was quite a relief to do that."

He also found "handing over stuff for other people to do" difficult sometimes.

"It's all part of the collaboration. And I'm learning."

He's hopeful the channel commissions him to make more Worzel Gummidge in the future, as he has plenty of ideas for standalone stories up his sleeve.

"There are lots of other characters in the books that I'd like to bring out," he reveals.

"Saucy Nancy was played by Barbara Windsor in the last adaptation, and she's a ship's figurehead, so I've got a whole story about taking her back to the sea.

"There's lots of madcap, fun adventures to be had. Ideally, I'd like to be doing this for the next 2/3 years."

Worzel Gummidge airs on BBC One starts on Boxing Day, 6.20pm.