TV presenter, novelist, columnist and of course, avid gardener, Alan Titchmarsh has never been a fan of reality TV.
But there’s one show in this particular genre he was surprised to find he enjoys – America’s Next Top Model!
“Occasionally, I sit down with my youngest daughter, Camilla, and we watch it together,” he says. “I shout at the competitors because they’re such a miserable bunch and my daughter picks holes in what they’re wearing. We do thoroughly enjoy that! I suppose it’s my guilty pleasure.
"I can’t stand the Big Brothers of this world. People being horrible to each other makes me uncomfortable. I like Strictly, but that’s different because it involves people learning a skill. We tune in when they’ve whittled it down to ten couples – I can’t cope with 16. My wife Alison was a dancer, so I like dancing.”
Last year Alan teased that he would consider taking part in this year’s competition. “I’ve been asked to do it several times but my schedule wouldn’t allow me,” he revealed at the time.
“To do it well, you really have to clear a good three months. Maybe next year – but then, of course, the body will have gone.
"I know they’d make me the silly one with the bow tie, not the one with the shirt undone to the navel – those days are long gone, I fear.
"I’d consider Strictly but none of the others. I couldn’t survive watching people pick fluff out of their navels and whingeing. I don’t think people should necessarily find you interesting unless you’re doing something; I’d rather give them a reason to watch.”
Whether Alan decides to embrace the spandex, spray tans and sequins remains to be seen, although we live in hope. Meanwhile, now fully recovered from the gallstones’ attack that saw him airlifted to hospital after eating fish and chips, and chocolate, back in April, he’s putting the finishing touches to the sixth series of his popular ITV gardening show, Love Your Garden.
“Yet again, we have some incredible life stories and it is the combination of showing achievable garden transformations coupled with incredible human stories that makes this series so special,” he says.
“It’s very emotional, going into the lives of people who have experienced difficulties, and hoping that what you are doing is giving them some kind of respite. It’s also a reminder of what a garden can give and how working in, and being the custodian of, your own little patch of land can help. I’d like to say sorry to those people whose gardens I can’t do. I get so many requests. It’s not because I don’t want to, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
- Love Your Garden is on Tuesdays, 8pm, ITV
- Words and interview by Alison James
- For more star chat, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine
Did you know...?
- Alan was born and brought up on the edge of Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire.
- He left school at 15 to become an apprentice gardener in the local nursery, followed by training at horticultural college and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. After a spell as supervisor of staff training at Kew he became a horticultural journalist, before embarking on a career as a freelance broadcaster and writer.
- He has written almost 40 gardening books and six novels and is a Freeman of the City of London.
- In 2004 he was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s highest accolade – the Victoria Medal of Honour – for outstanding services to horticulture.
- He was appointed MBE in the 2000 New Year Honours list.
- Music has always played an important part in Alan’s life. As a young boy he sang treble in the church choir. He first trod the boards as an actor with the Ilkley Players and has appeared in many productions including Oklahoma! and had lead roles in many Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.
- He has been married to Alison Titchmarsh since 1975