Typical. I go away on holiday for one poxy week and miss all the excitement.
I speak of course of the announcement that Toby Buckland is the new lead presenter on Gardeners' World (Britain's most popular gardening TV show, for anyone not from these shores). I hadn't heard his name in the mix in the various discussions on possible successors to Monty Don, so it came as a bit of a surprise - I don't know him but have met his wife Lisa, as she wrote a nice piece about small front gardens for me a while back. I do wish Toby well - I'll be watching GW with interest to see how his presence reshapes the show.
Not surprisingly, the green web has been alive with discussion over whether Toby is the right choice, and why others - primarily Carol Klein, an existing GW presenter - was overlooked. I work with Carol - she writes a weekly column for Guardian Weekend - but I haven't spoken to her about the news yet as I've been away. But a piece in the Telegraph yesterday quotes Carol as saying that she wasn't asked to take over from Monty: "Had I been asked, I would have loved to have done it and I think I could have done it very well, but I was never in a position to say yes or no. It looks like I've hit what you might call the 'grass ceiling'."
I agree with Allan Shepherd that Toby is a good choice, but I wonder when (if?) we are ever going to see a woman gardener head up the show. I think Carol would have done a brilliant job, too.
There's a provocative piece by John Walker in Organic Gardening magazine that's worth a read, (although you can't read online I am afraid) dismissing the "celebrity" slant of GW, but it's pretty hard to make a TV show about gardening without a focus on people- and hence personalities - as well as plants. Having said that, parts of the GW team do seem to have been rubbing a section of the gardening fraternity up the wrong way of late.
Once the peat-free dust has settled, let's hope that the show's presenters - newcomers and old hands alike - can usher in a new golden age to match the heady heights of the Geoff Hamilton days. The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that they were GW's finest moments.
But the final word on the GW brouhaha and its outcome has to go to EmmaT's pitch-perfect Private Eye-style Parish Newsletter. Fnar.