Alan Titchmarsh is putting on a brave face after being replaced as the face of the BBC’s Chelsea Flower Show coverage.
The presenter, who has been working in TV for more than 35 years, was replaced by green-fingered rival Monty Don for this year’s floral festival after Don was chosen as main anchor role and Titchmarsh rejected the offer of a lesser role in a team of 11 presenters.
However Titchmarsh tells this week’s Radio Times that while the disappointment has “hurt” him he is adamant that he will not get bitter.
“Yes, I suppose I was hurt, because I know people enjoy you doing it as much as I loved doing it,” he admits.
“But they probably felt it was time for a change and may well be right. Was I dumped for Monty Don? You might say that. I couldn’t possibly comment. I don’t feel dumped. They made me an offer I had to refuse. It’s up to them. I’m not bitter. I was disappointed but I’m not a grudge-bearer. You have to move on. Nobody owes you a living. I’m still gainfully employed. My days aren’t empty.”
Asked whether Don’s comparative lack of horticultural training annoys him, Titchmarsh says: “Presenting is a skill in itself. I’ve presented programmes on classical music, nature and the royal family, all lifelong interests. I don’t hold Monty Don’s lack of training against him. He’s passionate and he gets through to a lot of people. We have different audiences. Good luck to him. I’m not going to slag him off.”
Titchmarsh caused a stir 11 months ago with comments about “whingeing” older female TV presenters.
He said at the time: “Men in television tend to last a bit longer at the end of their careers, but it is women who make hay at the beginning.”
“They don’t complain in their early days when they are disporting themselves on sports cars. I’d like to see a mix of all ages on TV and wish there could be less whingeing about it.”
And it appears that he remains unrepentant despite the fuss these comments caused, telling Radio Times: “If you’re going to make noises about not being employed, you have to be absolutely sure it is down to ageism rather than the fact that you’re not very good. I don’t think I’d be confident enough to say, ‘They’ve stopped me doing this because I’m too old,’ because my inner voice would be saying, ‘No, they’ve stopped you doing it, love, because you’re not terribly good any more.’ ”
Read the full interview with Alan Titchmarsh in the new issue of Radio Times, on sale Tuesday