Unquestionably popular

BBC Radio 4 recorded Gardener's Question Time at Alnwick Garden where panellists were Christine Walkden, Bunny Guiness and Chris Beardshaw and the presenter Eric  Robson.
BBC Radio 4 recorded Gardener's Question Time at Alnwick Garden where panellists were Christine Walkden, Bunny Guiness and Chris Beardshaw and the presenter Eric Robson.

GARDENERS’ Question Time, one of BBC Radio 4’s most iconic programmes, was recorded at The Alnwick Garden Pavilion on Monday evening, with a full house of local enthusiasts in attendance.

That they all left after over three hours of recording with smiles on their faces and chatting excitedly, was a clear testament to this show’s durability.

A complimentary glass of wine on arrival helped set the tone, as did chairman Eric Robson’s ‘warming up’ address to the audience.

What a relaxed style he has! And how could we not warm to these knowledgeable gardening celebrities, so regularly on our television screens, prominent at the top shows and in the gardening press, who’d travelled so far north to be with us. The glamorous Bunny Guinness, lovely Christine Walkden and top man Chris Beardshaw.

Friend Eddie Wardrobe, of Radio Newcastle’s Stan and Eddie Sunday ‘Garden Mania’ programme, hosted by Marian Foster, added a local flavour to the panel for recording two.

Collectively, they made the night for all friends I spoke to afterwards.

The format was simple.

On arrival we were invited to hand in any gardening questions and the panel selected a dozen to answer.

Two shows were being recorded so 12 lucky gardeners were ushered to reserved seats on the front row for each recording.

Everyone read their questions out with great aplomb and the only re-takes required were when aircraft flew overhead.

A diversity of questions, which will be highlighted in next week’s gardening article, were handled by the team with humour and directness/candour in equal measure.

The only grumble is that they don’t visit Alnwick often enough, a point quietly made to Eric Robson after the show when I gave him a complimentary ticket from the previous BBC Gardeners’ Question Time event in the town – September 2, 1967.

“Good God,” he chuckled. “Thanks.”

The programmes are scheduled for broadcast on Friday, February 11, and Friday, March 4, respectively, at 3pm on BBC Radio 4, 92-95FM. They are repeated on Sundays at 2pm.