What is it with Gardener’s World presenters and excruciating conversation? I thought we’d reached the nadir in the corduroy era when Monty would treat Carol Klein like an embarrassing old aunt with dementia who’d just wandered out of the shrubbery and she’d be all but making the sign of the cross behind his back when he loped off to the Long Border.
But early signs are that the Buckland era will bring its own range of conversational horrors. ‘Do you want a hand with that nail, Alys’ he jokes as they companiably build a compost bin. She makes some unidentifiable facial grimace in return. It’s meant to look like she’s humourously irritated with him, but it just looks like she hates him. ‘Lovely to see you Carol.’ ‘Lovely to see you too,’ she replies through teeth so gritted the grass is covered with powdered enamel. It’s like being stuck in a drinks party in which someone has just run off with someone else’s wife but they’re all still passing round the G and Ts.
It’s not that I really think they hate each other. It’s just that they’re not trained actors and can’t summon up ‘natural’ banter with people they don’t know very well while standing in a featureless field surrounded by JCBs. If they were trained actors, Carol’s voice wouldn’t break when she got excited (ie when she saw a plant) and Alys wouldn’t get so shrill only dogs can hear her. It kind of makes them more likeable really. Still don’t get Joe ‘apples and pears, me old missus’ Swift though – where did he get that accent from? Isn’t his father in Keeping up Appearances and his mother Margaret Drabble?
Also I know it’s very brave new world, new start to feature a new garden and build it from scratch and all that, but I’ve always wondered why Gardener’s World can’t just be set in a normal garden with overgrown clematises and dandelions in the lawn and greenhouses that have rotting frames and big scary unidentifiable bushes that you can’t kill. Then I’d really learn something. Instead I learnt that you have to have a bespoke shed made by trained craftsmen (with a specially angled roof, naturally) and that you have to build your own compost bins with offcuts of something with special grooves for the sliding oh whatever the hell it was. Not all gardeners like wandering around with a power drill, you know, some of us would rather click Buy Now and wait in for the nice man from Parcelforce.