Alan Titchmarsh talks about walking with Twiggy, chats with Julie Walters and the joy of a British summer…
So how are you enjoying all the hot weather?
“I’m worried about all of my plants drying out now, but it is lovely to have so many sunny days. I respond to sunlight more than temperature. I don’t need to be hot, but I do like it to be bright. I like squinting!”
What is this new show Walks of Fame about?
“It’s people in the public eye selecting a walk that is particularly important to them and then walking that walk while I interview them about their lives. You get to see a different side to them.”
So you enjoy a good walk, then?
“I grew up in the Yorkshire Dales, so I was always walking there, either on the moors or in the woods or down by the river. Down here in Hampshire we live in a village that’s surrounded by fields and woods so I can just walk out the gate and go for as long as I want without seeing traffic. It’s lovely. The villagers are used to me now!”
Where is your favourite place to walk?
“On The Isle of Wight. We’ve got a second home there and there’s a lovely walk across a place called Aston Down. It’s like the spine of the island – you can see both sides of it from up there and it’s a glorious walk. I love walks with views.”
What do you do as you walk?
“I don’t know whether the people who are with me ever care, but I like to remind myself what I’m looking at. I do like spotting plants, because I think as far as nature’s concerned, plants are the underdogs. All the big naturalist series are usually about big spectacular animals or meerkats or whatever. None of us would exist without plants and I try to do my bit by looking at the wild flowers.”
How was it interviewing your first subject, Twiggy?
“We’ve met over the years and she’s great fun. She was very forthcoming and very candid on the show. It’s really a vehicle to give an insight into people’s lives, and I hope viewers get that with her.”
And are you looking forward to the return of The Alan Titchmarsh Show in September?
“I’m looking forward to it hugely. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have most of the guests from my original wish list on the show. When you’re interviewing people like Julie Walters they’re just good conversationalists and good entertainers – the best guests are those who realise they’re there to entertain.”
What do you think is the secret of the show’s success?
“I like talking to folk and listening to people – I enjoy conversation. I can’t believe it when people say the chat show is dead. The chat show will be dead when conversation’s dead and conversation will never die. The chat show is dead when the host doesn’t actually want to know an answer to the question he’s just posed.”
Do you think you will ever turn your back on gardening?
“Gardening was my job when I left school and I will always be a gardener, but that’s not all I want to do. It’s nice when I’m offered the right show, but I don’t just want to keep saying ‘now is the time to plant your dahlias’. There’s not much fun in that for either me or the viewer.”
*Alan Titchmarsh’s Walkf of Fame screens on ITV1 on Sunday, August 1