Written By Susanna Lazarus, 18 November 2013, Radio Times
Bake Off meets Ground Force? BBC2 commissions Grow, Make, Eat: The Great Allotment Challenge
Fern Britton will host a new six-part series with nine couples growing and hoeing their crops in a bid to be named the nation’s best gardeners
We’ve had baking, we’ve had sewing and, surprise, surprise, now we have gardening. Never ones to underuse a good format, the BBC are launching a new contest to find the nation’s best horticulturalists.
Presented by Fern Britton, six-part competition Grow, Make, Eat: The Great Allotment Challenge will see nine pairs of enthusiastic gardeners pulling on their trusty gloves and sewing the seeds of success (or not, as the case made be).
Each duo will be filmed as they toil in their allotments every week, demonstrating their skills in growing vegetables and making jams and chutneys. But whose preserves will claim first prize at the village fair and which couple will dig themselves a deep hole?
Instead of labouring under the watchful eyes of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the green-fingered hopefuls will be trying to impress three experts – horticulturalist Jim Buttress, floral arrangement expert Jonathan Moseley and preserves specialist Thane Price – who will weed out the weak and select one pair for elimination at the end of each episode.
The commission follows the enormous success of The Great British Bake Off, which recently saw Frances Quinn crowned champion of the fourth series, pulling in a whopping 8.4 million viewers. BBC2 will be hoping The Great Allotment Challenge and series two of The Great British Sewing Bee will fill the considerable hole left in their schedule when Bake Off moves to BBC1 for its fifth series next year.
The Great Allotment Challenge will be filmed in a walled garden on the Mapledurham estate in Oxfordshire and each coupling will have four months ahead of the filmed challenges to harvest their crop, so with the series expected to air in early 2014, they’d better get digging for victory…