Gardeners Question Time has been a fixture of BBC Radio 4′s schedule since 1947. The format is simple: GQT travels across the UK to record a weekly show in which panel of three renowned horticulturists answer gardening questions from a live audience.
The panel is Anne Swithinbank, Bob Flowerdew, Pippa Greenwood, Matt Bigg, Bunny Guinness and Chris Beardshaw.
The chairman, Eric Robson, fields queries from the floor, and calms down the team when the disagreements grow too heated. Nick Griffin on Question Time has nothing on passions roused by slugs, and dog-pee on lawns. Believe.
Each week producers Lucy Dichmont and Howard Shannon select the most intriguing questions from the audience in the hall to challenge the panel’s wit and knowledge. They never cease to astound us with the depth of their expertise on subjects as diverse as moles, monkey puzzles and the horticultural uses of domestic white goods. The panel never see the questions in advance so all their answers are completely spontaneous.
The venues we visit range from barns to stately homes; we host sessions at live BBC events, and pack out tiny village halls. The logistical complications are immense, yet AP Amy Racs steers the GQT team with a steady hand through endless recces, co-ordinating a minimum of 8 people arriving from all corners of the UK to converge in one place, at the same time, eat sandwiches, drink tea, wrestle with the cutting edge issues of gardening today and then disappear into the night to return to their homes, studios and homesteads.
And the audiences love it! SE may work with some glamourous talent, but we’re willing to bet that the excitement of our audience and the queue for the autographs of Bob, Pippa, Anne, rival that of the Judge Jules or Gilles Peterson.
We are always up for new and exciting suggestions of places we should broadcast from, and gardeners we should talk to, so feel free to contact us, tell us your opinion or invite us to visit you GQT@bbc.co.uk
Howie is in charge of plant hydration in the office.
BBC Radio 4 1500 Fridays, repeated 1400 on Sunday
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