Belfast Telegraph

Titchmarsh 'hurt' by BBC offer

Alan Titchmarsh has admitted he was "hurt" by the BBC's decision to sideline him in this year's Chelsea Flower Show programming - saying he was made "an offer I had to refuse".

The broadcaster, 65, who has been replaced by Monty Don, said he was offered a lesser role for the much-loved event after three decades as host.

The former Gardeners' World presenter told Radio Times magazine he was not bitter and that he had moved on, b ut he admitted: "Yes, I suppose I was hurt, because I know people enjoy you doing it as much as I loved doing it.

"But they probably felt it was time for a change and may well be right. Was I dumped for Monty Don? You might say that. I couldn't possibly comment. I don't feel dumped."

It was announced last year that Alan was leaving the show, with the BBC saying in a statement: "The way the Chelsea coverage will be presented across the BBC has changed for 2014, and Alan decided to step away from next year's show."

He told Radio Times: "They made me an offer I had to refuse. It's up to them. I'm not bitter. I was disappointed but I'm not a grudge-bearer. You have to move on. Nobody owes you a living. I'm still gainfully employed. My days aren't empty."

The chat show host denied that his replacement's lack of horticultural training - Monty is a self-professed "amateur gardener" - bothered him.

"Presenting is a skill in itself. I've presented programmes on classical music, nature and the royal family, all lifelong interests. I don't hold Monty Don's lack of training against him," he said.

Alan, who was succeeded by Don on Gardeners' World when he left in 2002, added: "He's passionate and he gets through to a lot of people. We have different audiences. Good luck to him. I'm not going to slag him off."

Asked whether he agreed with garden designer Diarmuid Gavin, who described Monty as a "brilliant gardener", he said: "I don't know enough about him to say. I know I recommended him to take over Gardeners' World from me because he was a good anchorman."

He added: "Jealousy eats you away. There's no point. Leave it behind. We've all got problems, had tragedies in our lives. I don't see any point in whingeing.

"A trouble shared is a trouble dragged out till bedtime. The people who have life sussed are outward-looking, doing stuff for other folk.

"There's so much self-analysis now ... the cult of personality ... but fame is a by-product, not a goal. What drives me is contentment, satisfaction and stimulation, and the avoidance of jealousy and bitterness. Those things don't achieve anything."

This year, Alan has created a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) garden for Chelsea and the BBC has booked him for an interview to talk about his creation for the Britain In Bloom scheme.

"I'm not one for strops. I'm not being holier than thou, it's just not an attractive thing to do," he said.

"I wasn't going to say, 'No, push off' (to the interview). I don't want to appear churlish, because I'm not."

Last year, Alan suggested that female presenters should stop complaining about being passed over once they reach a certain age.

Explaining his comments, he told the magazine: "If you're going to make noises about not being employed, you have to be absolutely sure it is down to ageism rather than the fact that you're not very good."

The star, who is set to front new ITV series Britain's Best Gardens, said: "I don't think I'd be confident enough to say, 'They've stopped me doing this because I'm too old', because my inner voice would be saying, 'No, they've stopped you doing it, love, because you're not terribly good any more'."

He said he had not watched Gardeners' World since he left, adding: "I'd either be grumpy because I didn't like what they were doing, or uppity because they were doing it too well. It wouldn't be healthy for me to watch so I moved on. "

Newsreader Sophie Raworth will join regulars such as Joe Swift, Carol Klein and Rachel de Thame for the 2014 coverage of the horticultural highlight on BBC1 and BBC2.

She told the magazine of taking the slot Alan turned down: " The fact that I'm doing it has nothing to do with the fact that he isn't. I wasn't approached to do the show until he decided to step away from the BBC coverage. It's a real honour."


From Belfast Telegraph