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Gardeners’ World: will new format be a success?

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Monty Don
Monty Don anchors the new Gardener's World format

Monty anchoring new hour-long show

Tonight, Gardeners’ World is branching out into a new format, with hour-long episodes, in an attempt to increase ratings.

The Great British Bake Off’s ex-producer Paolo Proto, now at the helm as executive producer, is introducing new presenters and less traditional ideas, such as tropical and ‘extreme gardening’.

Don’t worry those who fear change – Monty Don’s still anchoring the show in the new format, which runs until late October.

New presenters include Frances Tophill from ITV’s Love Your Garden (extreme gardening), Nick Bailey (plant doctor), Adam Frost (designer), Flo Headlam (city gardens) and Nick Macer (tropical plants).

What will Gardeners’ World’s loyal (and traditional) 2.5 million viewers make of the changes?

From the BBC’s position, it’s not a moment too soon. Gardeners’ World has been lagging behind other ‘lifestyle’ programmes, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, from my point of view.

Carol Klein
Carol Klein’s still reporting for the new format

I don’t watch any of the popular shows, including the GBBO. The appeal of Gardeners’ World to me is as an institution, right back to the days of Percy Thrower and Geoff Hamilton when I first started watching as a kid. I suppose I watch it out of habit.

I’d love to think the show will attract more viewers and keep hold of its older, core audience, but I’m not sure you can do both. However, keeping Monty as the anchor (a safe pair of hands with the older audience) may just sway it.

I really liked the 2009 revamp when the show was also extended to an hour, with Alys Fowler and Toby Buckland, but it didn’t go down well with viewers and returned to its 30-minute format.

It’s not just a matter of a TV show – more viewers will spark an interest in gardening to some, or encourage others to try something new, which in turn filters down to the horticultural industry itself, always in dire need of new cash.

Next year, like me, Gardeners’ World celebrates its 50th birthday. Let’s see if the new format lasts that long. Good luck to us both.


Tonight’s show

Monty Don is at Longmeadow catching up with some seasonal jobs and visits the longest herbaceous border in the world.

Seven-time Chelsea gold medal-winning designer Adam Frost lays out plans for his new garden in Lincolnshire.

Flo Headlam visits a small city front garden in Liverpool to start her mission to green up grey spaces.

Nick Macer is in Sheffield, exploring the ways in which Britain’s climatic conditions can be exploited to grow some surprising plants.

Carol Klein is in Devon, looking at the buttercup family.

Gardeners’ World is on BBC2 tonight and every Friday at 8.30pm.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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