TV blog: Love Your Garden

Benjie Goodhart / 19 July 2018

Alan Titchmarsh returns to sprinkle some magic dust over a deserving person’s garden. Plus, the best of the rest of the week on TV.

How to Get Rich Quick, Monday 23rd July, 8:30pm, Channel 4

Well, why didn’t someone think of this sooner. In this age of austerity, TV is full of shows trying to put a few more pounds in our pockets, whether it’s Paul Lewis’ money-saving tips, or consumer shows telling us how to shop better. But we needn’t have bothered with any of that, because Channel 4 are going to make us all rich beyond our wildest dreams. With the expert advice of business titan Dave Fishwick, I reckon we’ll all be seeing in New Year 2019 from the deck of our own private yachts, dining on swan paté and drinking cocktails made from liquidised diamonds.

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Oh. Hold on a minute. Maybe it’s not quite that simple. Dave is talking about it taking a nose for business, a good idea, and an awful lot of hard graft. What sort of a world do we live in, where you’re expected to work hard before you can become rich??? Also, I slightly take issue with the word ‘rich’. Dave is suggesting that, with his help, he can double people’s investment in a matter of weeks. Tonight, he’s helping Tahira, a 34-year-old from Reading, who has £1000 to invest. So he’s going to help her make an extra £1000. That is in no way to be sniffed at, but nor is it going to help you move to a house with its own helipad and postcode. In fact, Tahira is just trying to raise a bit of cash so they can finish their extension, which they’re building themselves. It’s hardly buying a beachfront villa in Malibu.

Dave visits Tahira to come up with an idea. Tahira’s mum, Amina, knocks them up a spot of curry. It’s delicious, and gives Dave his lightbulb moment: A street food stall. Amina will cook the food, and Tahira and her sister will sell it. So they rent a market spot, hire some enormous saucepans, get the relevant paperwork etc, and off they go. Their stall is called Aunty’s Kitchen, which is odd as it’s just about the only female relative not working on it. They sell wraps, with chicken or dhal, and stuffed naan bread.

They need something to stand out from the crowd, insists Dave. I would have thought a TV crew might do the job. In a world where people will do just about anything to get their faces on TV, turning up and spending a fiver on some curry seems a small price to pay. But not even the presence of the cameras can help them when the rain arrives. Rain is the enemy of street food.

Dave, though, is not disheartened. You get the impression Dave isn’t even on nodding terms with disheartened. He is quite literally the world’s most enthusiastic man. He’s like a Labrador crossed with a children’s TV presenter who’s had a few too many e-numbers in his squash. He exhorts Tahira and family to work even harder.

And work they do. They shop, they cook, they rise up at ridiculous o’clock and travel around to markets from Greenwich to Oxford, peddling their wares and polishing their patter. And you know what? It works. After 12 weeks, they’ve made £2255. After their outgoings, they’re up £1015. It’s a rip-roaring success. Unless, of course, you work out what they’ve made per hour. In which case, I suspect they’d have made about triple that amount working a zero-hours contract job for minimum wage. But I suppose How to Get Rich Quick has a better ring to it than Dave Fishwick’s Sweat Shop.

All cynicism aside, this is enormous fun, as well as being a fascinating look at how to start your own small business. Dave Fishwick is hugely likeable and charismatic, and there is something rather inspirational about watching motivated people taking charge of their own destiny and working to improve their lot.

Love Your Garden 1/8, Tuesday 24th July, 8pm, ITV

Speaking of inspirational, meet Betty Richards. Betty is 90, and has been volunteering for over 50 years. She has dedicated her life to raising money for good causes. But now, in her tenth decade, and almost blind, she’s pretty much ground to a ha… oh, no, hang on, she’s just recently abseiled down the 170-metre Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth to raise money for charity. Frankly, she’s the kind of person they should honour on a book of commemorative stamps.

Failing that, though, there’s always Mr Titchmarsh and his trusty gardening team. For those of you who have never seen previous series of Love Your Garden, it sees Alan and co pitch up at the house of a deserving-but-unsuspecting member of the public and making some much-needed improvements to their garden.

And, let’s be honest, Betty’s garden could do with some improving. It doesn’t appear to contain a single actual plant. What it does contain is an almost heroic amount of concrete and paving stones, and more steps than the Empire State Building, none of which is ideal for a woman with mobility issues and failing eyesight.

Mind you, her eyes aren’t so bad, yet, that she can’t recognise Alan Titchmarsh. When he surprises her with a knock on the door, it is a genuinely moving moment. Her excitement is a sheer delight to witness.

The team quickly gets to work, making her a more suitable garden. It needs to be a riot of bright colours – no point in tasteful and demure pastels for Betty’s eyes – and must appeal to the aural and olfactory senses, and contain a shaded area for her to sit. So Betty is sent away (we’re never quite told where, but with her track record it’s probably basic training at a military boot camp) while Alan visits an Italian garden for inspiration.

Sadly (for Alan, at least) the Italian garden in question is in Hampshire. I bet he’d love to spend a week wandering around the gardens of Tuscany eating a gelato while his team lay AstroTurf in Portsmouth. Yes, AstroTurf. No, I’m not sure that’s a big theme in Italian gardens either. Maybe Betty fancies an all-weather five-a-side pitch in her back yard. She’s a big football fan – so much so that the producers have recruited a couple of Portsmouth FC players to help with the planting. I bet Mr Beckham would give his right arm to be on Love Your Garden. That’s real fame for you, David.

While we’re being snarky, I’m not sure that Italian gardens are big on broken up china plates, fake-aged statues, glass pebbles, and enormous pictures of Betty dressed as Eliza Doolittle (yes, really). Oh, it’s fun, being all cynical and superior. Which is all very well, but when the conclusion to the programme comes, and Alan shows Betty her new garden… well, you’d have to have the heart of a fake-aged stone statue not to be properly moved. Utterly delightful, and entirely uplifting. Enjoy your garden, Betty.

The best and the rest

Saturday 21st July

RHS: Flower Show Tatton Park, 7pm, BBC Two: The first of two visits to the annual flower show at Tatton Park in Cheshire as it celebrates its 20th birthday, including a tour of the floral marquee and a look at the darker side of plants in new exhibit the Poison Garden

Sunday 22nd July

Golf: The Open Highlights, 8pm, BBC Two: The best of the action from the final round at Carnoustie, where Jordan Spieth will be hoping to hold on to golf’s most prestigious title.

Funniest Ever Celebrity Moments, 8pm, Channel 5: Look, I don’t like this any more than you do, but it’s a quiet week, okay? Don’t judge me!

Monday 23rd July

Crimewave: Lawless Britain, 9pm, Channel 5: A look at the rising tide of violence in the UK, hearing from victims and their families.

Tuesday 24th July

999: What’s Your Emergency?, 9pm, Channel 4: Return of the horribly involving series following the Wiltshire police, paramedics and fire service as they go about their extraordinary day-to-day working lives.

Wednesday 25th July

The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco 1/4, 9pm, ITV: A somewhat odd idea – a collection of codebreaking women who turn their hands to private detection – transfers to the US for an even weirder-sounding spin off. Rachael Stirling, Julie Graham, Crystal Balint and Chanelle Peloso star.

Thursday 26th July

Eat, Shop, Save 1/4, 7:30pm, ITV: Second series for the show that helps families get healthier and save money at the same time.

The Big Life Fix with Simon Reeve 1/4: Welcome return of the cheerfully inspirational show wherein Simon Reeve and a team of experts try to find some creative life hacks for those in need. Tonight, 40-year-old Graham was a passionate snowboarder until an accident changed his life. Now severely disabled, can anyone help him realise his dream of standing upright on a board again?

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