50 Years of Gardeners’ World

Joe Godwin, Sharon Fisher, Louise Hampden, Claire Johnson

Joe Godwin, Sharon Fisher

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In June 2017, Gardeners’ World will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee. A special 50th anniversary edition is being planned. Today (5th May 2017) a Gardeners’ World masterclass was held in the BBC Birmingham, Mailbox building, for students, and BBC staff. The event took the form of a conversation between Joe Godwin, Director of the BBC Academy (the training arm of the BBC), and three of the production team: Sharon Fisher, series producer; Louise Hampden, producer; and Dr Claire Johnson, horticultural researcher. It was interesting to hear from the team about some of the challenges of making the programme, and we found out that presenter, Monty Don’s dogs, Nigel and Nellie, have a huge mailbag, and even their own Twitter accounts – although the production team don’t know who it is that writes on their behalf!

Gardeners’ World was a Birmingham programme from its start in January 1968, until it was moved to Bristol in 2012. Sharon, Louise and Claire, used to work on gardening output in Birmingham, but moved to work in Bristol when production was moved there. Gardeners’ World has been a BBC production, except for a period of 10 years in the 1990s, when it was produced by Independent production company, Catalyst. This was when Alan Titchmarsh was presenting the programme.

Gardeners’ World was one of the first shows on the BBC to be recorded in colour. It was preceded by an earlier BBC Birmingham series, Gardening Club, presented by Percy Thrower from his greenhouse in the Gosta Green studio, Birmingham.

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Bryan Comley: ‘Edited one of the episodes in the mid 80’s on CM2, made using the roll back & mix method of linear production, even the captions were as live. A very pleasurable & satisfying way of making tv.’

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