It had to happen of course. It was inevitable that the BBC's decision not to give the main presenter role on Gardener's World to Carol Klein would have led to accusations of gender bias. The new man is Toby Buckland. I think that I'm pleased about this - and this is nothing to do with Toby being a man.
I've watched Gardener's World, on and off, since Percy Thrower dominated the programme in the 60s/70s until he was sacked for advertising fertilizer. He was Britain's first celebrity plantsman. To begin with he was employed at 'the Dingle' which is at the heart of the annual Shrewsbury Flower Show, and he ran the programme from his home at 'The Magnolias' near Shrewsbury, which I visited. Shrewsbury has always been our main town. Percy was very big into fuchsias. Probably his most successful successor has been Alan Titchmarsh, who developed something of a sexual magnetism through the way he used words and wellies - or so I'm told. Couldn't see it myself. My personal favorite was Geoffrey Hamilton, who died at far too young an age - and I grew to like Monty Don, whose tenure has recently been cut short by ill health.
I was dreading the job being given to Carol Klein. Its not that she doesn't know her gardening. She does. But listening to her forced vocal exaggerations really grates on me. We press the mute button when she's on. Joe Swift is not much better. I suppose they are coached to do this. No real gardener would. I read somewhere this week that the BBC is taking Test Match Special down the same ugly road. Now if the job had been given to Rachel De Thame, it would be an entirely different matter. No gender bias on this blog.