Chelsea Flower Show heartbreak: How TV legend Alan Titchmarsh was ‘squeezed out’ by BBC

Chelsea Flower Show heartbreak: How TV legend Alan Titchmarsh was ‘squeezed out’ by BBC


But one of the nation’s most beloved gardeners once admitted he was forced to quit his role covering the iconic competition after 30 years due to his “limited” presenting duties. Alan Titchmarsh is highly regarded as a TV personality and gardener, having fronted numerous shows across the BBC and ITV during his career. And for three decades, the now-70-year-old was the face of the Chelsea Flower Show.

However, in 2013 Mr Titchmarsh made the surprise move to ditch his duties on the show after his role had been “given to another presenter”.

Speaking to the Telegraph at the time, Mr Titchmarsh said: “My decision to step down from presenting next year’s BBC Chelsea Flower Show programmes was taken for one reason only: I was not offered the chance to present the breadth of coverage that I had previously undertaken. 

“Feeling that I would be unable to undertake the presentation of the show to the best of my ability led me to step aside.” 

He added: “What I was asked to do was make limited appearances on BBC One rather than the coverage on both BBC One and BBC Two with which I had previously been involved.

“The BBC Two programmes are more extensive and offer greater opportunities for in-depth coverage of horticulture – my chosen profession and area of expertise. 

“I was told that these programmes had already been offered to another presenter.” 

At the time, it was unclear which presenter Mr Titchmarsh was referring to.

The following year, though, newsreader Sophie Raworth – a presenter with no professional gardening experience – and ‘Gardener’s World’ host Monty Don joined the team.

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The lineup of presenters was completed with Nicki Chapman, garden expert Toby Buckland and designer Andy Sturgeon.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said in 2013: “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.”

She added: “We wish Alan well and look forward to next year’s Chelsea coverage with an exciting lineup of presenters.”

This year’s event has been severely struck by the current pandemic, but has gone ahead virtually.

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Gardeners are still showing off their green fingered prowess, while also delivering tutorials online.

The show first opened on May 20, 1913.

It was briefly stopped during World War 2, but would continue at the end of the conflict to become a mainstay of the British calendar.

Yet, the Chelsea Flower show is not without controversy.

In 2013, the Royal Horticultural Society, which runs the event, finally lifted its ban on garden gnomes, as part of the centenary show.

The same year famous British stars, including Sir Elton John and Dame Helen Mirren, painted their own figures to raise money for charity.

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