Dumped for a younger model? Alan Titchmarsh 'not bitter' over being replaced as face of the Chelsea Flower Show

“If you’re going to make noises about not being employed, you have to be absolutely sure it is down to ageism rather than not being very good," he said.

Media Editor

Having previously berated female television presenters for “whinging” over ageism, Alan Titchmarsh has had to admit that he may have been dropped from coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show because the BBC thought he was “not terribly good anymore”.

In an interview with Radio Times, timed to coincide with his 50th year as a plantsman, Titchmarsh, 65, claimed he was “not bitter” over being replaced by Monty Don, after 30 years as lead presenter.

The BBC announced in November that 58-year-old Don - who replaced Titchmarsh as host of the BBC’s Gardeners’ World in 2003 - would lead coverage of the horticultural extravaganza with Sophie Raworth. The decision came a few months after Titchmarsh had derided the “whinging” complaints of ageism from former BBC Countryfile host Miriam O’Reilly and other female presenters. “They don’t complain in their early days when they are disporting themselves on sports cars,” he said.

In the Radio Times interview, he said he was not going to attribute the BBC’s decision to his age. “If you’re going to make noises about not being employed, you have to be absolutely sure it is down to ageism rather than the fact that you’re not very good. I don’t think I’d be confident enough to say 'they’ve stopped me doing this because I’m too old', because my inner voice would be saying, ‘no, they’ve stopped you doing it, love, because you’re not terribly good anymore.’ ”

Titchmarsh was offered a supporting role to Don at Chelsea but declined. “Yes, I suppose I was hurt, because I know people enjoy you doing it as much as I loved doing it,” he said. “But they probably felt it was time for a change and may well be right. Was I dumped for Monty Don? You might say that. I couldn’t possibly comment. I don’t feel dumped. They made me an offer I had to refuse. It’s up to them. I’m not bitter. I was disappointed but I’m not a grudge-bearer. You have to move on. Nobody owes you a living. I’m still gainfully employed. My days aren’t empty.” He continues to work for ITV and is an ambassador for Waitrose.

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