Saturday, 27 September 2008


I suffered a disturbing dream, last night.  I was locked in a prison cell of some kind and made to watch a huge television screen with blaring sound.  I woke, hearing the voice of Toby Buckland saying "this geranium variety is called  'A tar of roses'" and recalled last night's Gardeners World.

Because of a long-running and incurable allergy to gardening programmes, I haven't watched Gardeners' World for several years.   But now that the new anchor has had week or two in which to establish his root system, I thought I'd watch last night's show to see how he's getting on.

When you return to a TV show, after a long absence, it can be rather a shock.  In fact I've only just stopped shaking and hope that the dizziness will pass, before too much longer.

Toby Buckland seems to be pretty good.  He knows his stuff and provided a stream of helpful tips and useful information - little things, like how to make sure there's a good edge on your knife by resting it on your thumbnail - and is relaxed and comfortable with his pieces to camera.  I'm planning to erect a greenhouse myself, during winter, so his comments were particularly valuable, as far as they went.

But the on balance, the programme was exasperating.  There seem to be a million presenters, a string of locations but a distinct undersupply of useful information.   There was a wonderful lady called Alys whose compost soup looked disgusting but whose quite amazing hairdo did much to distract one from the putrefying sludge she was churning in a sort of plastic cauldron.

Amid the collapse of world banking, economic ruin and many of us facing unemployment or a pension crisis - your time will come, depend on it, dearie - Sarah Raven was sipping such life essentials as strawberry-flavoured martinis.   What was that all about?  And where was the gardening in that item?

We watched Carol Klein hand over Gladiolus papilio for planting at a dangerous time of year- I wouldn't dream of moving mine until spring -  and then, in a fascinating garden that we so badly wanted to see more of, we saw her squashing Erigeron karvinskianus into a mud ball for planting in a wall.  That was good, sound stuff but throughout the rushed item, I wanted more info, more tips, more 'reasons why,' more advice.

The laddish allotment scene with Joe Swift and Toby almost had me diving for the remote. Joe's Islington Cabby brogue seems to be more carefully cultivated than the raspberries on his highly designed but puzzlingly shambolic plot.  Again, I felt starved of any useful information.  If I'd been a beginner, I still wouldn't have known when you prune autumn raspberries and why they are pruned at a different time from summer ones.

Toby's 'how to stick cuttings' sequence was better, but his actions were not matched to his words.  He said we should put the cuttings at the edges of the pots, giving reasons why, but then we saw hands inserting them well away from the edge.  And when he showed us different cuttings, given to him, the next shot was not of the gift cuttings being inserted, but what looked like a re-run of the sequence we'd just seen.

I switched off, at that point, and was left with the impression that the programme makers at the BBC must think their audience is composed of people with a mental age of three, the I/Q of a courgette and Attention Deficit Disorder to boot. 

I might revisit the programme in a few years - 2012 perhaps -  but for now, I think I'll stick to films on DVD for my Friday jollies.

1 comment:

  1. 'Attar of Roses' is a favourite of mine too, and it's good to read that other people feel that Gardener's World has dumbed down beyond all recognition. I thought I was alone.