In­stead of just wor­ry­ing about global warm­ing, get in­volved

Gar­den­ing guru Alan Titch­marsh, 70, re­turns for a new se­ries of Se­crets of the Na­tional Trust. The star tells SHERNA NOAH how we can all do our bit for the en­vi­ron­ment and why he won’t be hav­ing a nip and tuck

Llanelli Star - - HOT SEAT -

Se­crets of the Na­tional Trust is back for a fourth se­ries. Why is it such a suc­cess?

IT’S a won­der­ful way of look­ing at things within Na­tional Trust prop­er­ties that you might not usu­ally get to see.

We’ve got such a rich legacy with these prop­er­ties. And Se­crets goes that lit­tle bit deeper. It fas­ci­nates me when I’m go­ing around.

One episode tells the story of Wil­liam John Bankes, the 19th cen­tury owner of Kingston Lacy, a grand manor and es­tate in Dorset. He was forced into ex­ile over his ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity?

THIS was at a time when falling in love with peo­ple of the same gen­der was il­le­gal.

Here’s a man who had to leave the coun­try. But they think he came back se­cretly just to check that all his art­work was be­ing prop­erly dis­played.

So we’re look­ing at cul­ture as well as ob­jects.

You are pas­sion­ate about gar­den­ing and get­ting out­doors. Is there enough time for this in the school curriculum?

THE curriculum should cater for sev­eral pe­ri­ods each week out­doors. Even in inner city schools you can do it. There are green spa­ces.

I don’t need to spout Latin names at my grand­chil­dren but they adore be­ing out­side, whether it’s col­lect­ing eggs from chick­ens or pick­ing rasp­ber­ries or just run­ning around.

They are the fu­ture cus­to­di­ans of the land­scape. We need to get them fa­mil­iar with it.

Does gar­den­ing have men­tal health as well as physical ben­e­fits?

IT makes me smile when I see some­thing that says GPs are say­ing that gar­den­ing is good for you. Oh re­ally? Tell me some­thing else I don’t know!

It’s ob­vi­ous, gar­den­ing is ther­apy. In­stead of just wor­ry­ing and reading head­lines about global warm­ing and cli­mate change and how we’re all go­ing to hell in a hand­cart, we need to get in­volved.

Most of us have got a patch of ground at the back of our houses where we can make a lit­tle dif­fer­ence.

Do it there, grow plants for bees, grow or­gan­i­cally, don’t use sprays. Bring it back on your lit­tle bit and all those lit­tle bits will join to­gether.

Are chil­dren too clean now?

YES! A woman said to me, ‘What shall I do about my lit­tle boy eat­ing soil?’ I said, ‘Make sure he gets enough!’

How else do you build your an­ti­bod­ies up? They should ban an­ti­sep­tic wipes. They clog up all our sys­tems and they end up in the oceans. It’s dread­ful.

These ad­verts, ‘They kill 99.9 of house­hold germs’. Well, not all bac­te­ria is bad. How do you build up re­sis­tance?

I’m not say­ing don’t wash your h hands when you’ve been to the loo! B But just be a bit more re­al­is­tic.

Do D you miss Chelsea Flower Show S and Gar­den­ers’ World which w you pre­sented for many years?

I HAD a lovely time do­ing it and I’m all for keep­ing fresh and do­ing dif­fer­ent things but I sort of (feel I) did it. I would never com­plain about any­thing I used to do and don’t do now. I’ve got enough on.

The Alan Titch­marsh show was a TV sta­ple. Would you like to do an­other chat show?

I WOULD love to... al­though not ev­ery day. I was do­ing Mon­day to Fri­day. But one a week, I’d do it un­til I hopped the twig!

What about Ground Force, which launched your name?

IT’S al­ways on! My wife turned it on the other night. I thought, ‘Oh crumbs. I was about 12. I looked at it and thought, ‘Was that re­ally me?’

Have you ever been tempted to have a nip or tuck?

NO, I leave it to God. It will go wrong, I’d go lop­sided. You watch enough disas­ters and think, ‘Why did you do that?’ You have one bit nipped in and the other bit col­lapses.

It’s like cut­ting hair. You take too much off one side and you go on un­til you look grotesque.

I look at peo­ple like Dame Judi Dench and Dame Mag­gie Smith and Alan Titch­marsh out­side Tyn­tes­field, just one of the won­der­ful prop­er­ties whose se­crets he will re­veal

they haven’t had any­thing done. They’ve still got sparkle.

It’s what’s in­side, it’s heart as much as any­thing.

You were voted sec­ond sex­i­est man, beaten by Ge­orge Clooney. Do you en­joy your sexy sta­tus?

I DOUBT that I would hold the record now – more peo­ple have come along! But I’m very grate­ful to be men­tioned in the same para­graph as Ge­orge Clooney.

You are pas­sion­ate about eat­ing sea­son­ally. Do you ever buy a ready meal?

YES, I’m hu­man! But I know which ones I like buy­ing and I have a wife who’s a won­der­ful cook.

I’m not say­ing I’m a saint. I strug­gle like every­body else. But we do not buy rasp­ber­ries in Fe­bru­ary which have been flown in.

Mrs T is the cook and the grower. Mind you, I do a mean cooked break­fast!

■ Se­crets of the Na­tional Trust with Alan Titch­marsh, Chan­nel 5, Tues­days, 9.15pm

Alan with his gar­den at the Chelsea Flower Show and, below, with Ground Force col­leagues Char­lie Dim­mock and Tommy Walsh

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