I'm one of those Yankee Americans who's just recently been introduced to such BBC DIY programs as "Ground Force" and "Changing Rooms", so one might feel as though I shouldn't really be writing a review for "Ground Force". Au contraire -- in fact, since BBC America airs both DIY programs every day on weekdays and at least three times on the weekends, I've gotten to see a fair bit of both DIY programs, even though I've only had BBC America (and the chance to watch said programs) for six months. Even more so -- I'm absolutely addicted to both of them so I make sure I see them every day.
My favorite, though, has got to be "Ground Force". Alan Titchmarsh's personality is just too perfect for a lead host of such a program -- it's big, it's bold, it's not afraid of being cranky when it wants to, it doesn't hold back, and it's colorful. What also helps this personality shine is the fact that Alan's co-hosts are bold and colorful in their own regard, which prevents Alan from overpowering the show and turning the program into "The Alan Titchmarsh Show (with a couple of extra people on the side)". Charlie Dimmock has charmed me many an occasion by counteracting Alan's crankiness with a good kid or a rollicking laughfest. Tommy Walsh is indeed the salt of the earth, and he proves it by being just as big and bold as Alan -- well, at least in the personality aspect of things. (With Tommy being about 6'4" - 6'5", there ain't NO way he and Alan could compare PHYSICALLY.)
Some may complain that a lot of the gardens look basically the same -- decking and/or paving, little bits of grass, fully bloomed plants, gravel, wood chips, painted wooden effects, etc. -- but in reality, it's only the COMPONENTS of the gardens that are the same. Each garden does in fact have its own personality that comes together as a result of the local scenery and of what each surprisee is all about. For example, Nelson Mandela's special surprise garden is nothing like the surprise garden from the "Ground Force Goes Air Force" special, and none of them are like the Southampton garden or the Scottish garden (where Tommy donned the famous kilt and Alan donned the infamous sweatshirt) or the garden by the lake that was really a fancy dock or any of the other and numerous gardens the "Ground Force" team has created over the years. Sure, the components are largely similar, but it's what the team DOES with those components that really makes the garden, which is a lot different than having the actual gardens be the same.
All in all in my view, what's best about the show is that it manages to be a great many things to a great many people. For those people already interested in DIY gardening, it gives ideas and suggestions about what to do in one's own garden. For those such as myself, who previously held no interest in gardening, it draws one in to the world of gardening and makes even those who live in harsh climates (try living in South Texas in the depths of our Heat Stroke Summers) want to find ways of making the time one spends outdoors pleasant. For those dripping in testosterone, there's the lovely Charlie Dimmock, a Renaissance-era beauty who's also a sort of modern feminist heroine. For the lasses, there's either the squinty-eyed Alan Titchmarsh, who charms the gentle with a song and a smile, or the muscular Tommy Walsh, whose burly physique and caring nature make him into a living, scruffy, huggable teddy bear. For the intellectuals in the audience, there are technical descriptions of each and every single plant that goes into the garden. One could go on and on, but hopefully you get the picture.
In short -- I love "Ground Force". I love Alan, Charlie, Tommy, and Willy (Will Shanahan, Tommy Walsh's assistant). I love how there are so many different aspects to this program that there's bound to be something for most people out there. I love how I've even gotten my mother, who usually hates watching anything from Britain, to watch the program with me, even if it's only occasionally. I love this program and I would honestly recommend it to everyone I meet if they're interested in watching a refreshing program that's family friendly and truly engrossing. Now, if only we could get BBC America to have all their programming, including "Ground Force" be closed captioned for the hearing impaired... that would make everything complete.
(p.s.: Just to let you know, I'm a twentysomething who attends college [university to you Brits] and I think this show is cool -- very, very cool. "Ground Force" is just too good to leave to an older audience.)
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