Organic Monty Don slams critics in BBC chemical spat
Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don has vowed to defy a BBC statement that pledged he will offer a balance of organic and non-organic advice on TV.
Product firms had criticised Monty for saying the only way to control lily beetle was to hand-pick. But organic and chemical sprays are available (AG, 12 May issue).
In response, the BBC had told AG: “Monty often mentions non-organic alternatives and we will endeavour to ensure this is more consistent.”
But Monty told The Daily Telegraph he was “irritated when he saw the BBC statement” and had asked why it was issued.
Monty said: “The BBC can issue any statement they like but I can assure you I will not be promoting or advocating any non-organic products.”
Monty said he would not “list a load of chemicals” and hit back: “I just wouldn’t do that. It’s not going to happen. I have had no conversation of any kind with the BBC about that.”
He summed up: “I do what I think is right and proper. Without being too grand it is my show. With my views and my methods of gardening.”
And Monty told fans on Twitter: “Thanks for all expressions of support in silly spat with chemical thugs (and BBC). I sell my time and skills but not – yet – my soul.”
Gardening editor of The Sun, Peter Seabrook, said: “When I presented Gardeners’ World, I saw it as a show for all gardeners. It is paid for by the viewers’ Licence Fee. Our job [as presenters] is to give the broadest advice and leave gardeners to make their own choices – not to dictate what they should or shouldn’t do.”
Organic gardener Bob Flowerdew, who is also qualified in pesticide use, agreed: “All views should be catered for and none should be excluded. Comparisons and trials should be done. This will show which has real merit.
“I advocate that Gardeners’ World is a sacred cow, long hogging all the pasture and well overdue for the abattoir.
“It should be replaced by more focused programmes: a ‘grow-your-own’ series or a ‘growing flowers and foliage’ series.”
However, fellow Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Anne Swithinbank said Monty was “right to stick to his principles”.
Anne suggested: “If producers feel they need to offer non-organic advice, they could ask one of the other presenters to provide it.”
The BBC said: “We won’t be offering any comment.”