Gardeners’ World host Rachel De Thame to swap her wellies for dancing shoes on Strictly?

The former ballerina says another offer to join Strictly Come Dancing would be tempting - oh, and she has some gardening tips too...


Is your garden enjoying the heatwave?


I think it has – other than the watering – because we had that rather magical combination of lots of rain in spring and then lovely warm weather so everything has been flowering beautifully. I’ve had the best roses I’ve had for years.

How often should one water?

When it’s this hot you really do need to try to do it every day, either early in the morning or late at night, otherwise you’re losing so much through evaporation; and just water at the roots rather than spraying the leaves.

And the lawn?

You can let the lawn get quite brown and it’ll recover remarkably quickly. Don’t cut it, or if you’re going to then don’t scalp it. If you leave that growth on the top, it helps to protect it.

What do you listen to while gardening?

If I’m in the greenhouse or the shed then I might have on Radio 3 or 4, or a little bit of Classic FM. But when I’m outside, I don’t want it intruding; I just like to be outside and to listen to that.

And when you put down your trowel – what’s your guilty pleasure?

One Born Every Minute. Having had four children – and I would have had more and more given free rein – I can watch babies being born endlessly. Perhaps I was a midwife in another life or something. Every single time I find it miraculous and extraordinary.

Do you have the same tastes as your husband (film-maker Gerard de Thame)?

He loves cookery programmes but I’m an appalling cook so they don’t hold an awful lot of interest for me. I grow things and he cooks them. In order to enjoy arts and history documentaries I have to wrestle him for the remote control.

What have your children introduced you to?

I try to put on CBBC or wildlife documentaries for my nine- and seven-year-old but they always turn it over to watch some sort of endless American show, which is either animated or aimed at teens but watched by much younger kids. I would like some way of limiting their access to that sort of stuff.

And your older children?

Heavy metal! They’re 24 and 22. One of them loves Curb Your Enthusiasm, which I love as well.

What did you tune into when you were young?

All the normal stuff – Andy Pandy, Crackerjack, Blue Peter – but we didn’t watch at all on Saturdays. I grew up in a Jewish household and we didn’t turn the TV on from Friday night until Saturday night. Instead we went for walks and did puzzles and Scrabble. In retrospect it was probably quite good for me.

Who was your first crush?

In the late 70s there was a series called The Devil’s Crown with Brian Cox as Henry II. He was the ultimate, rather dangerous alpha male.

If you were controller for the day…

Both as a presenter and viewer, I would like programmes to go into more depth. There’s a tendency to have things in bite-size portions and sometimes I want more than just a bite: I want the whole cake.

What can’t you stand?

I hate things like I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, which bring out the worst in people – that bear-baiting. The exception is Strictly, which I adore.

Could you be tempted?

I have been asked, but I was about to have a baby so it was very bad timing. But it is something that I might find very tempting, having been a dancer in another life – as a teenager I attended the Royal Ballet School.

Do you ever dust off your dancing shoes?

Only in private!


Gardeners’ World is on Fridays on BBC2