Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Toby Buckland to Leave Gardeners' World

Why is it that just when you get used to something it has to go and change?

Like an old biro or a comfortable pair of shoes we know that one day, when you’ve passed the “breaking-in” stage, it will run out of ink or come apart at the seams respectively.  

Gardeners’ World has come in for some stick in recent years and it hasn't escaped my ramblings either (see here).  Directions and presenters came and went and after a few teething problems, notably the first series with Toby Buckland at the helm, it soon settled in to it’s rhythm again.  A mix of old and new (with a little less of the new) appeared to please the majority of viewers that tuned in and in my opinion it had just started to become a more worthwhile effort and interesting 30 minutes or so.  But alas the decision has been made that Toby will no longer captain the good ship GW. 

It is no secret that Toby is to be replaced by Monty Don who is to return to the show after suffering a stroke in 2008.  Monty has a huge following and I’m sure he will be warmly received back in to the bosom of the nation.  Still, I cannot help but feel that a backward step has been made here somewhere?  When looking to revamp a show or move away from an approach that has been seen as “dumbing down” what’s on offer you cant help but feel a new presenter with new ideas would be more appropriate?  

This move may say more about a need for figures than an improvement on what is to be offered to license fee payer who is genuinely interested in the world of horticulture.  I’m aware that television programmes need figures in order to justify their existence but surely the public deserve progress and innovation too.

There have been comments made to suggest that Toby Buckland is devastated by the announcement and rightly so.  Creating a garden, whether for a television show or for your home, is something that requires time and effort and I’m sure that despite the hired help behind the scenes, investment was made on Buckland’s part.

Toby, in a recent tweet wrote:

‘It was such an honour to present Gardeners' World and I'm sad to be leaving. Wish Monty and the team the best of luck. T’

It has also been announced that Alys Fowler will not be returning to the programme.  Although I'm confident that we will see much more of her in future.

If you have a particular view on this announcement or on anything contained in this piece, please leave your comment below.

Also, do not forget that there is still time to enter this years’ Christmas competition to win a choice of real or artificial Christmas trees!


  1. Very balanced assessment of the issues I think.
    I don't watch tv and so am ambivalent about the presenters. However, it seems odd to go backwards in an industry which is generally ruthlessly pushing forward.

  2. Excellently put Ryan, totally agree. Inextricably linked to viewer statistics I'm sure and the prospect of viewing Monty's own garden will no doubt pull in the masses.

  3. What! Oohh they can't go on without him and Alys! What are they thinking, he is fab at presenting and I have a little warm place for him in my heart as he comes from the Cambs area where we live. And Alys, she is fantastic - hopefully she will go on to do her own show like earlier in this year, I really loved that.

  4. This is the approach that the tv companies take to reinvigorate viewer numbers on soaps - they are always bring characters back who they think the public like. To my mind this shows that they see GW in the same light which is where they are going so wrong

  5. Yep, this seems to be the emerging consensus. It wasn't great, but it was improving. If you're going to change it go forwards, not backwards.

  6. I'm not a watcher of Gardener's World but have been joining in with feedback for Over the garden Fence from GW mag. What puzzles me about this announcement is that at weekend they were asking people's opinions on presenters - which they preferred, who they'd like to see more/less of etc
    BUT for this announcement to come today, they had obviously made their minds up several weeks ago. If they were going to ask for input and opinions why not do it sooner?
    BTW I suggested there should be more of Alys Fowler so they're ignoring me!

  7. Actually, I'm pleased GW will be returning to an established garden rather than the empty space which Greenacre started from, as many people may relate more to a 'work in progress'. However, I've enjoyed following the team as they created interesting new spaces - particularly the small (modern-sized) gardens within the Greenacre plot. It's a shame we won't see the gardens become fully established. Perhaps the time delay in a garden reaching maturity influenced the Beeb's decision?

    Toby, Alys and Joe have been entertaining, likeable and a topic of conversation at the school gate as I've never experienced before - combining to raise the status of the home gardener. How fab! It's a lovely gesture to have Monty return to our screens and many of my parent's generation will be pleased; such a shame that it has to be at the expense of losing Toby and Alys though; I hope GW will find a way to continue to nurture the enthusiasm of the new, informed generation of gardeners.

  8. I started watching Gardeners World more than 25 years ago and I have always liked it, no matter who the presenter was. Gardening programs on the BBC are always a joy to watch. Maybe Joe Swift and his friend from 'Three men went to mow' could present GW. I like them.

  9. I think the bbc are making a mistake going back to Monty. ALthough I enjoyed monty in his previous spell, I felt I could better relate to Toby and his team. Especially liked his large family baack garden he created and the projects he did in it. I am sure Toby wont be off our screens for long thoug.

  10. Toby will be very much missed. He was a great encouragement to young gardeners. As an older person I too enjoyed his presentation and liked seeing a beautiful garden emerging from nothing.
    I hope we will see him back very soon.
    18 March 2011 16.22


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