Posted: 22/03/2013 at 11:28
I'm repeating things I've said on other threads here but there seems to be a consistent theme emerging, so here goes;
When GW moved to Monty's country estate a great deal was made of the value of it being the presenter's "own" garden, as opposed to a created one like Greenacre. This is entirely bogus in my opinion.
The GW garden should feel as if it belongs to us (as licence payers it arguably does!). As someone else says, Monty doesn't even like other presenters in his garden, so we are really there under sufferance!
Most (not everyone I admit) seem to admire Geoff Hamilton and Barnsdale, I certainly do. However, Barnsdale was no more Geoff's personal garden than Greenacre was Toby's. It was created on agricultural land adjacent to Geoff's house and garden. It was very much a "set" as any visitor will readily appreciate. That is however no criticism, Barnsdale is inspirational because it focuses on small and diverse settings, which show what can be achieved in an average person's back garden.
The point is that it isn't about where the garden is, or whther it is the presenter's "personal" garden. What matters is their approach, ability to communicate and inspire and their empathy with people with average sized gardens, limited time and money. Geoff did it, Alan T to a lesser extent and Toby brought it back to earth (pardon the pun) once again There seems to be a disconnect now between GW and this ethos, increasingly featuring large gardens but failing to translate it to smaller spaces. It's like one of those really posh gardening magazines rather than the weekly ones with the free seeds which most of us buy.
I find Monty very watchable but I don't feel the urge to rush out and start doing the things he does in my little plot. Every time I watch Geoff I immediately see how I can achieve what he is doing.
GW was a bit embarrasing when it went to 1 hour with Toby as the new presenter. They tried to make it like Top Gear for gardeners, which was never going to work. Once they brought it back to a more familiar format I really liked Toby and thought that bringing back Monty was a victory for the sort of people who write to their MP when "Womens' Hour" is moved to a different time slot on Radio 4..
I think Beechgrove going national will give GW a kick in the pants, I hope so.
There have been other programmes recently.One thing that no-one mentions is Alan Titch's recent ITV "gardening" programmes, which were pretty grim, a sort of Ground Force dumbed down (if that is possible) and the BBC one last year with Joe, Phil Tuffnell and Anneka Rice which was even worse. OK, so they were entertainment and for worthy causes rather than primarily gardening programmes. It just goes to show that however good the presenters the format needs to be right too.