Created By: Nemmington on June 8, 2013 Last Edited By: AgProv on July 29, 2015

Wurzel

The UK\'s answer to the hick.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A subtrope of Working Class People Are Morons, the Wurzel is a denizen of rural Britain who is simple-minded, often eccentric, generally employed in farming and fond of a bit of scrumpy. The stereotype is widely associated with The West Country ("oo-arr" being a popular Wurzel catchphrases) but has also been adapted to other areas. The stereotype is applied to people from entire counties which were bypassed by the Industrial Revolution and which remain predominantly agricultural, for instance Norfolk and Suffolk (the only two English counties with no motorways whatsoever) and from Gloucestershire (most famous son: Fred West). Fred West is typical of another rural British stereotype: keeping it in the family, so to speak, the regular accusation of incest - which to a certain extent is Truth in Television, although not as prevalent as people think. Sometimes the Scottish and Welsh in general are portrayed as Wurzels.

This is essentially the British variation on the hillbilly and redneck sterotypes from America, although they are not entirely equivalent. A Wurzel is almost never a Corrupt Hick, for example, as they are usually portrayed as being simply too dim-witted to be corrupt: any corruption in rural Britain is more likely to be due to an upper-class country gent.

Hot Fuzz is full of them, and Sightseers. Also, in both these films, the Wurzel characters are partly vicious murderers... Yeah, that part may be true... Ooh, My Summer of Love, too. Actually, that film basically embodies West Yorkshire (Oop North more Wurzel-full than The West Country, arguably). Farming nutters.

The obviously classist implications make this a Dead Horse Trope, unless the work is being ironic.

Contrast with the Chav stereotype (see Lower-Class Lout).


Examples:

Advertising

  • A series of Dime Bar ("smooth on the outside, crunchy on the inside") adverts from the nineties featured a British Bumpkin character who preferred eating armadillos ("crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside").

Comics

Film
  • Basic premise of anything Edgar Wright has helped with. Usually. -ZCE. Also General Examples are not allowed.

Literature
  • The moles of Redwall have a very distinct country accent, burr aye. They're portrayed as down-to-earth types, not given to fighting or deep thinking, but they're very good at tunneling and cooking.

Live-Action TV
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus had a sketch on the Village Idiot, who was clearly based on this stereotype down to the "Oo-arr". Watch it here.
  • Phil Harding from Time Team actively cultivates this image, with wild hair, poacher's hat, manky sweater and oo-arr accent, but is very much a subversion as he is an internationally renowned expert on submarine and neolithic archaeology.
  • Comedian Russel Howard is from the West Country, and whenever he wants to put on a 'stupid voice', the full Oo-arr is the one he'll go for.
  • The Two Ronnies used yokels to repurpose jokes about ethnic stereotypes (such as Irishmen) that wouldn't fly as political correctness started to become more mainstream - the Ronnie's correctly anticipated that no-one would complain that "I'm a yokel and that sketch offended me!"

Music
  • The comedy "Scrumpy and Western" band The Wurzels draw on this trope; possibly the Trope Namer, is at is unclear as to whether "wurzel" was used as a synonym for bumpkin beforehand. -ZCE

Sport
  • The chant levelled against Norwich City fans by rival teams sums it up: (Tune: The Addams Family Theme)
    Your sister is your mother,
    Your father is your brother,
    You all **** one another,
    The Norfolk Family!

Theatre
  • William Shakespeare's works tend to feature a lot of less intelligent people who live in the countryside. Whether they fit this trope depends on individual productions, of course. -ZCE. General examples are not allowed.
  • In the play Hydriotaphia, by Tony Kushner, the young gravedigger Pumpkin, who's having an affair with Sir Thomas Browne's wife, and Babbo, an elderly cook and nurse, are portrayed this way. They have their own semi-english patois. -ZCE
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • June 8, 2013
    Bisected8
    Contrast with the Chav stereotype (see Lower Class Lout).

    • William Shakespeare's works tend to feature a lot of less intelligent people who live in the countryside. Whether they fit this trope depends on individual productions, of course.
  • June 9, 2013
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
  • June 9, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    ^ Were the Gumbys also based on this?
  • June 9, 2013
    lakingsif
    As much as this is really a horrible Hollywood stereotype, it's exploited by the British and you get Hot Fuzz, full of them, and Sightseers. Also, in both these films, the British Bumpkin characters are partly vicious murderers... Yeah, that part may be true... Ooh, My Summer Of Love, too. Actually, that film basically embodies West Yorkshire (Oop North more bumpkin-full than The West Country, arguably). Farming nutters.
    • Basic premise of anything Edgar Wright has helped with. Usually.
  • June 10, 2013
    Nemmington
    I'm not sure if this is really a Hollywood invention. The only thing is that, obviously, people in the UK wouldn't use the term "British Bumpkin" - I only went with that phrase because I couldn't find a UK-specific term for bumpkin/yokel at the time. I've since come across "wurzel" - anyone for a name change?
  • June 10, 2013
    Duncan
    In the play Hydriotaphia, by Tony Kushner, the young gravedigger Pumpkin, who's having an affair with Sir Thomas Browne's wife, and Babbo, an elderly cook and nurse, are portrayed this way. They have their own semi-english patois.
  • June 10, 2013
    Chabal2
    The moles of Redwall have a very distinct country accent, burr aye. They're portrayed as down-to-earth types, not given to fighting or deep thinking, but they're very good at tunneling and cooking.
  • June 10, 2013
    abloke
    I think "wurzel" gets the message across. To me, at least, that carries connotations of the West Country, but I don't think there's anything else that's as succinct.
  • June 10, 2013
    AgProv
    Applied to people from entire counties which were bypassed by the Industrial Revolution and which remain predominantly agricultural, for instance Norfolk and Suffolk (the only two British counties with no motorways whatsoever) and from Gloucestershire (most famous son: Fred West). Fred West is typical of another rural British stereotype: keeping it in the family, so to speak, the regular accusation of incest - which to a certain extent is Truth In Television, although not as prevalent as people think.
    • The chant levelled against Norwich City fans by rival teams sums it up: (Tune: The Addams Family Theme)
      Your sister is your mother,
      Your father is your brother,
      You all **** one another,
      The Norfolk Family!
  • June 11, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    The description isn't quite good enough for me to identify who in The Vicar Of Dibley or Keeping Up Appearances would qualify.
  • June 11, 2013
    Melkior
    From the description and the similarity in word sound, I'd guess that the titular character of the children's show, Worzel Gummidge (not certain of the spelling) would fit this trope (he's a living scarecrow, made by "The Crowmaster" and Worzel is "a sandwich short of a picnic" most of the time). Worzel was played by Jon Pertwee (he also played the third Doctor Who).
  • June 27, 2013
    Chabal2
    The inhabitants of Hay (or as they call it, 'ay) in Dragon Quest V are all this, down to refusing to believe that the giant sabercat they hired you to kill is an old pet of yours, instead choosing to believe that you were behind it attacking all along to extort money from them. In the American localization, they have Texan accents and Kansai in Japanese.
  • December 15, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    bump
  • December 15, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    Phil Harding from Time Team actively cultivates this image, with wild hair, poacher's hat, manky sweater and oo-arr accent, but is very much a subversion as he is an internationally renowned expert on submarine and neolithic archaeology.
  • December 15, 2014
    Loquacia
    • Comedian Russel Howard is from the West Country, and whenever he wants to put on a 'stupid voice', the full Oo-arr is the one he'll go for.
  • December 15, 2014
    Loquacia
    • Seconded that the description isn't good enough (^^^^^^) and that there's a lot of the Vicar of Dibley that qualifies. Would dispute that the Keeping Up Appearances lower-class louts qualify as Wurzels though: they live on a council estate with no obvious rural elements.
  • December 15, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    How do you pronounce it?
  • December 15, 2014
    Exxolon
    The Two Ronnies used yokels to repurpose jokes about ethnic stereotypes (such as Irishmen) that wouldn't fly as political correctness started to become more mainstream - the Ronnie's correctly anticipated that no-one would complain that "I'm a yokel and that sketch offended me!"
  • December 22, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    ^^ Pronounce "Wurzel"? It is in this song (SFW)
  • July 28, 2015
    Alucard
    Michael Burston, former guitarist in English heavy metal/punk rock band Motorhead had Wurzel as his Stage Name (with a Heavy Metal Umlaut over the U).
  • July 28, 2015
    NateTheGreat
    I had to look up "scrumpy" to learn it means "hard cider." I don't think many Americans have seen that word.

    In one of their Let's Drown Out/Let's Plays Yahtzee and his friend Gabriel discuss the use of "ooh-err" as an indicator of weak innuendo. Does that have anything to do with this stereotype?
  • July 28, 2015
    lakingsif
    ^ I guess a lot of British people don't know what hard cider is, because it's just cider and the specific brew is called scrumpy? It probably wasn't intentional by the OP, they just didn't know there was a different/American name.

    And the use of "ooh ar" in that way isn't to do with this stereotype.
  • July 28, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^FWIW that gets called out in Monty Python's "The Idiot in Society"
    I mean, "ooh arh, nob arhh, nob arhh" .... nobody does that anymore. Anybody who did that round here would be laughed off the street. No, nowadays people want something wittier.
  • July 28, 2015
    eowynjedi
    Elaborating on the Vicar of Dibley:

    Would Cornwall fall under this? Doc Martin has a few "hillbilly" type characters, too.
  • July 28, 2015
    shimaspawn
    <MOD HAT>

    A large chunk of your examples are ZC Es. Examples must make it clear what the trope is even if you have never seen the work or read the trope.
  • July 29, 2015
    AgProv
    Slight revision to main description to allow for link to relevant page East Anglia
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=5146jilmy1on7519yzrssibk