Heathcliff of hedgerows favourite to take over 'Gardeners' World'

Few roles on British television cultivate quite the same level of devotion as that of lead presenter on the BBC's Gardeners' World. As tender in chief to the best-known herbaceous borders in the country and custodian of the national vegetable patch, those who have assumed the role over the show's previous 40 years – from Percy Thrower to Alan Titchmarsh – have effortlessly taken up the mantle of national treasure.

Monty Don's rugged good looks and earthy charm has earned him legions of admirers. But the announcement this week that the self-trained horticulturist was standing down following a stroke has opened up a huge gulf in the corporation's Friday night schedule; the speculation is now over who may succeed him.

The bookmakers Ladbrokes made gardening hunk Matthew Wilson favourite yesterday to pick up the boss's trowel at the BBC's garden, Berryfields.

The author of bestselling books on wildlife and climate change gardening, Wilson recently left his post as curator and head of RHS Harlow Carr garden in North Yorkshire and is due to take up a top creative role with the society next month.

Although the BBC is playing down talk of succession, Don has been absent from filming since his minor stroke six weeks ago. The series will continue to be fronted by Joe Swift, Carol Klein and Alys Fowler, possibly until the present series finishes in November.

The programme's producer, Rosemary Edwards, said yesterday in a message to the show's star on her blog: "It's hard to imagine anyone taking Monty's place and as we continue to make Gardeners' World each week we hope that, Monty, you'll watch and let us know if we're keeping Berryfields on the right track. For us – Monty is still with us at the top of every programme – washing spades and dividing geraniums in our new titles – and for us there can be no better start for the nation's favourite gardening programme."

The sudden announcement of the 52-year-old's departure, which follows a gruelling work schedule that included 18 months spent filming his latest series Around the World in 80 Gardens, left fans reeling.

The official line from the BBC is that no replacement is being considered yet. The garden designer James Alexander-Sinclair said there was no shortage of talent to draw on. "There are some very good people doing the programme. But as far as I know there is no line of succession," he said.

Who's in the running?

*Matthew Wilson

Talk, dark and handsome. Heathcliff of the potting shed, seen as natural heir as Berryfields' top hoe. 2/1 Favourite

*Joe Swift

Mockney son of novelist Margaret Drabble has scored well with his redevelopment of a derelict allotment plot. ODDS: 4/1

*Carol Klein

Runs her own successful nursery, also a popular columnist and presenter, she has become a mainstay of the show since 2005. 5/1

*Alys Fowler

Trained at Kew before working as a researcher on Gardener's World under Monty Don's tutelage. Posh, seen as thinking gardener's crumpet. 7/1

*Chris Beardshaw

Former Flying Gardener whose daredevil stunts brought a touch of danger to the laborious process of double trenching. 7/1

*Alan Titchmarsh

Legendary presenter turned national treasure may be too busy presenting every other show on TV/radio to return. 10/1

*Diarmund Gavin

Long-haired garden-design maverick could prove a little too colourful for prime time BBC2. 14/1

*Sarah Raven

Gave up medicine to start her own gardening and cookery school in Sussex. 20/1

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
film
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure / Development Support

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunity to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Partnership Relationship Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partnership Relationship Mana...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Developer - Xamarin

£45000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software development compa...

Recruitment Genius: Student Support Assistants - Part Time & Full Time

£14600 - £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are passionate about sup...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore