Can it really be two decades since Charlie Dimmock first graced our screens in a series called Ground Force?
The answer unbelievably is yes – where did those decades go!
Charlie's new show
But now the golden-haired goddess of gardening is back as she launches a new show called Garden Rescue, where she’ll be going into garden disasters, to work her green-fingered magic. In each episode, homeowners will have their own real-world budget to stick to as Charlie tries to create a garden that will fulfil their needs.
It’s a makeover-style show not that dissimilar to what Charlie and the gang used to relish on Ground Force, but this is not Ground Force Take Two – an idea Charlie is certain wouldn’t work today.
“Ground Force was so successful because it was a complete change to the gardening programmes at the time,” she says. “But I think we’ve seen and done that now so it wouldn’t work. It was of its moment.”
In her new show, Charlie will once again form part of a presenting trio. But in the place of her former co-stars, Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh – who she still remains firm friends with today – she’ll be joined by Harry and David Rich, the handsome gardening double act also known as The Rich Brothers, who are former Gold Medal winners at Chelsea, and in Charlie’s words, “just brilliant. Right out of my league!”
Charlie on being a sex symbol
“That whole thing was a joke,” laughs Charlie. “I was 32 when I started Ground Force and I’d never been called sexy before, so how on earth was I 32 and suddenly sexy? It was all a bit overwhelming.
"Funnily enough, when I started out, Esther Rantzen took me to one side and said, ‘you’re going to get stuck with some of the things said about you for the rest of your life. I’m still referred to as the buck-toothed presenter and I had my teeth fixed the year after I started presenting’.
"I soon totally understood what she meant.”
A family tragedy
Charlie’s years on Ground Force really did change her life for ever. But it was a tragic event involving her parents that had the most dramatic impact on her.
In 2004, Charlie’s beloved mum, Sue and her stepdad Rob, were holidaying in Thailand when they were killed in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami that claimed a quarter of a million lives. Charlie desperately tried to fly out to Thailand straight away to find them but the Foreign Office warned her it would be pointless.
She was left inconsolable as it became clear her mum and stepdad were never coming back. It wasn’t until six years later that she made her first major re-appearance into the public eye taking a role in the touring stage production of Calendar Girls in 2010.
Since then, she’s starred in several pantomimes and this year, she launched an affordable new range of gardening gear with the high street store, Poundland. And now, she’s looking forward to embracing her biggest challenge in decades as she returns to our tellies.
“I’m excited about coming back into the public eye. We’ll see what happens. You never know with new programme concepts if it’s going to appeal, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
- Garden Rescue is on daytimes on BBC1
- For more star chat, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine
Did you know...?
- Charlie grew up in Romsey, Hertforshire
- Charlie met the producer/director of Ground Force five years previously when she built a pond for the Meridian series, Grass Roots
- She has published several gardening books, including the BBC Ground Force books Water Garden Workbook and Container Gardening, as well as Enjoy Your Garden
- Charlie paired up with James Martin to make a special festive meal during Home Comforts at Christmas