This Tuesday evening will see the start of another hobby-based BBC2 series grace our television screens across the country; The Big Allotment Challenge is set to become the nation’s new obsession. Following in the footsteps of the likes of our Great British bakers, interior designers and sewing fanatics, this new set of contestants will be competing to become ‘Britain’s Best Growers’ in the new series, presented by Fern Britton.
During the six weeklong series, we will see nine of the country’s best green-fingered duos
take part in a number of horticultural challenges which are created and considered by a panel of highly qualified judges; award-winning gardener Jim Buttress, international floral designer Jonathan Moseley, and ‘Queen of Preserves’ Thane Prince. The show will follow the contestants over the weeks as they attempt to harvest prize-winning produce and demonstrate a knack for floral arrangements in time for show day. They will also have their preserving skills put to the test as they are challenged to produce jams, chutneys, cordials, pickles and jellies.
The Big Allotment Challenge comes along to fill the ‘do it yourself’ shaped gap in the BBC’s programming, left behind by shows which have re-captured the nation’s creative minds, a trend which started four years ago with The Great British Bakeoff. The unprecedented popularity of a show featuring amateur bakers pitted against each other would have been beyond anyone’s predictions, yet it was swiftly followed by shows of a similar nature, such as The Big Interior Design Challenge and The Great British Sewing Bee, as the nation hungered for more.
The current renaissance of DIY focused television comes along at a time of tough economic pressure for many, which could owe to their success. They bring fresh and thrifty ideas into our front rooms for us all to take on board, learn from, experiment with, and reproduce, and at a fraction of the cost of the products we can find in shops today; the modern day version of our ‘make do and mend’ mentality.
We have learnt how to bake our own cakes, rejuvenate our homes on tight budgets, and make our own garments from fabric scraps and old shirts, and so we may as well learn how to grow our own fruit and vegetables whilst we’re at it too.
It is true to say that, as with most aspects of life, allotment keeping often comes with a
misjudged stereotype – in this case of it being a hobby purely for the older generations to
partake in their retirement, perhaps. However, it is possible that The Big Allotment Challenge will allow its viewers to review any pre-judgments they may hold regarding their notions of allotment keepers. There are contestants of all ages, from all walks of life for us to enjoy on our screens; from biodynamic gardeners who believe in organic, ethical growing and glamorous gardeners, to super-organised, scientific gardeners and self-confessed lazy gardeners, the show appears to offer a gardening style for all, and for everyone to relate to. The beauty of gardening is that there’s always room for it, whether you have a garden large enough for a vegetable patch, are lucky enough to have your own allotment, or just have a small kitchen herb garden.
Whilst being light and entertaining, The Big Allotment Challenge will also educate its viewers within the field of horticulture and ‘growing your own’, hoping to inspire a new generation of growers. The show begins tonight at 8pm on BBC2, in which we will see the nine pairs of talented gardeners challenged to grow and present three matching radishes, seven perfect spikes of sweet peas and face a timed surprise floral arrangement challenge, all in aid of being named ‘Best in Show’, and progressing to week two.
How will you be inspired by The Big Allotment Challenge?