Gardener of the Year Final 1999

Photos probably taken by Mark Kershaw, no reproduction without permission.

The photos are from the first ‘Gardener of the Year’ final in 1999.  We recorded the show at the Earth Centre in Doncaster in early September 1999, with the programme being transmitted just before Christmas on 21 Dec, and achieving some very good audience figures.  The show ran for around 10 years.

For the final the contestants had to design and build a show garden which was about 5m square.  They had a budget which they had to stick to rigorously, and they were allowed one helper each.  Each regional winner from the heats had 5 days to build their garden.  I remember a fair amount of tears and tantrums. The finale was an OB in a fantastic marquee presented by Alan Titchmarsh.  Charlie Dimmock reported on how the contestants had got on during the build.  The format worked really well, and was finessed over the subsequent years, although the preliminary heats were dropped.

The series was produced by me (Vanessa Jackson), executive produced by Roger Casstles, directed by Mark Scott, with assistant producers Kate Hillman and Beverleigh Wildman (now Thompson).  The judges were garden designer Ali Ward, Gardeners’ World Magazine editor Adam Pascoe, and presenter and gardening expert Nigel Colborn.  Alan Titchmarsh was the presenter, with Charlie Dimmock reporting.

The photos include:  Charlie Dimmock (jeans), Roger Casstles (navy jacket), me (Vanessa Jackson, centre, blue floral dress – and 6 months pregnant), John Moorcroft (camera, yellow T-shirt, shorts). Ali Ward and Adam Pascoe (judges) in the penultimate photo, and Dave Brazier (floor manager) and me in the last photo.

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