Sara Ferguson on Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh
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Alan has become one of the most famous TV gardeners of all time. In the Eighties, he burst onto our screens as the horticulture expert on the long-running BBC TV show, Nationwide. This led to his being invited to present coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1983 — a role he would continue every year until 2013.
Later work with Gardeners’ World made him a more familiar face.
But it wasn’t until he kickstarted Ground Force alongside Charlie Dimmock and Tommy Walsh, and took gardening to the masses that Alan’s place in the country’s psyche was firmly cemented.
He has since had an illustrious life and career, most notably becoming close to the Royal Family.
The Queen is known to have a soft spot for gardening and, by extension, Alan.
Having met the monarch on a number of occasions, including to receive his MBE in 2000, he’s even gone on to write a book about the history of Britain’s royal gardens.
A deep love for the Firm, it is no surprise that Alan became miffed when he perceived the BBC’s reporting on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 as less than up to the mark.
The revelation came shortly after the event during an interview with the Radio Times when he was asked what made him blush.
He replied: “I haven’t blushed for a long time.
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“Sometimes I get angry.
“I got very angry during the Diamond Jubilee coverage when the Queen was wrongly called ‘Her Royal Highness’ and presenters were vague on facts.
“One said the Queen has outlasted 12 prime ministers and ‘at least’ six American presidents.
“We all make mistakes but when somebody obviously hasn’t done their homework, that gets me a bit rattled.”
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The BBC received more than 4,5000 complaints about its coverage of the event.
Most of these were targeted at the river pageant programme during the national celebrations.
Others also singled out a segment that saw Fearne Cotton and singer Paloma Faith discuss a jubilee-themed sick bag.
Clare Balding, one of the programme’s presenters, went on to admit that the coverage of the river pageant had “misfired”.
The Royal Family continues to be something close to Alan’s heart.
His book, ‘Royal Gardeners: The History of Britain’s Royal Gardens’, explores the five main royal residences — Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham, Holyrood House and Balmoral — and the green spaces they sit on.
Earlier this year, Alan revealed that he once received a personal letter from the late Prince Philip, it becoming one of his most “cherished” possessions.
The Duke of Edinburgh had written to Alan shortly after being gifted a copy of the royal gardens book, with one chapter having captured his attention.
In the letter, which Alan read out loud to Huw Edwards while being interviewed on the BBC, Philip wrote: “On the chapter devoted to Elizabeth the Second, you go onto to say ‘outdoor activities were very much more their scene, riding and horse racing for the Queen, shooting and carriage driving for the Duke.’
“As I am sure you appreciate, shooting does not go on all year round and I only took up carriage driving in 1973 after playing polo for twenty years!”
Alan explained: “He then lists everything he has done in the home park here, the avenues he’s planted, the oaks he did and it just goes on.”
Thankfully Alan didn’t read the entire letter – but apparently, the Duke rounded it off: “I don’t expect you to do anything about this.
“But I thought it might interest you to know that active gardening still goes on in the Royal gardens.”
Today, he welcomes actors Les Dennis and Samuel West on his show, ‘Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh’.
You can catch it on ITV One at 10am.
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