Gardening TV’s taking over, with stalwarts Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don now going head-to-head on ITV and BBC respectively. But isn’t it time for something new, or are you happy with the state of gardening TV?
Alan Titchmarsh is back. Not that he ever went away of course, but he hasn’t been gardening regularly on our screens since the heady days of Ground Force. Now he’s got a new show, Love Your Garden, on Friday nights at 8pm on ITV, which pitches him against Monty Don over on BBC2’s Gardeners’ World at 8.30pm.
Monty vs Titchy
The deep-rooted Gardeners’ World has had mixed fortunes of late. A ‘Top Gear’ magazine-style format with new presenters and a new garden in Birmingham was not deemed a success. And several presenters, including Toby Buckland and Alys Fowler, were dropped. Now the show is filmed in Monty’s own garden and has a ‘no frills’ approach.
The two programmes are quite different. In Love Your Garden, Alan visits ‘normal’ gardens, chats to the owners and gives tips on how to achieve the look they want. Gardeners’ World follows Monty as he does various jobs, pausing to listen to birdsong as he goes.
Alan’s programme is unashamedly commercial – details of products mentioned in the show are released beforehand so retailers are prepared. Monty is organic, makes his own compost and is anti-peat. He comes across as rather posh – his garden is impossibly grand and large.
A growing audience?
At the moment Alan’s winning the ratings war (and has a clear run at the moment thanks to Wimbledon programming taking over the BBC), but Monty isn’t without his fans.
Perhaps most importantly, the viewing figures for both shows combined is well over five million. Yet, debate still rages on over the quality of gardening programmes on TV – and who should be presenting them.
Since Alan’s departure from Gardeners’ World, viewers have debated the merits of various presenters and no one has come out on top. In fact they all seem to have the ‘marmite’ factor – people love them or can’t stand the sight of them. And no programme has ever reached the viewing figures that Ground Force achieved in the 90s.
For me, Carol Klein’s lyrical programme about her garden in Devon was the best thing I’ve seen on TV for a long time. Filming the garden over the course of a year, with ‘time lapse’ photography, was a masterstroke.
But as far as prime-time gardening shows go, I think it’s time for something new. I’d like to see some new faces and a fresh approach. With interest in gardening and grow your own at an all-time high, someone, somewhere, must have some ideas, surely?
Which show do you prefer – Love Your Garden or Gardeners’ World? And generally what do you want from gardening programmes on TV? Is it time for something new?