First Impressions: Alan Titchmarsh
Alan Titchmarsh is an allrounder – TV presenter, gardener, novelist. It seems he excels at everything he touches, but gets the most pleasure from his family and gatherings of close friends. He is married to Alison, has two grownup daughters and lives
What are you working on at the moment?
A book about my garden called My Secret Garden, because people are always asking me 'What is your garden like now?' It is very nice, I like to think!
When were you at your happiest?
I think I am now. My life has got better and better really, rather than worse and worse. I don't think I have ever been happier – I have two lovely daughters, one lovely grandson and my second daughter is about to marry.
What is your greatest fear?
Being bored. I really like to be stimulated.
What is your earliest memory?
Walking on my grandfather's allotment when I was about two years old. The sweet peas seemed to reach up to the sky.
Who has been your greatest influence?
A tough one, that! Probably my mum, because she was interested in gardening. She and my father brought us up with pleases and thank-yous, table manners and the basic good family life. I think my parents to be honest
What do you most dislike about yourself?
The fact that, most of the time, I feel guilty about feelings. I was at church the other day and the sermon was about forgiveness; forgiving yourself, and I thought that is the hardest thing to do. I think I honestly need to go into therapy or something.
What is your most treasured possession?
My grandfather's spade. My dad wasn't very keen on gardening, so he mixed concrete with it, but I have it now and use it all the time.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
Lack of generosity and spirit.
Do you have a fantasy address?
Any address by a quiet backwater or a river.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
As I am getting older, I am getting wider around the middle and it is getting harder to control!
What is your all time favourite book?
The Wind In The Willows, which explains my love of rivers.
What is your favourite Film?
Gosford Park – anything with good costumes, old cars and stately homes.
What is your favourite record or piece of music?
That is very tough because there is so much. At the moment I am listening to the soundtrack of Becoming Jane – it is very soothing.
What is your favourite meal?
Well, I keep chickens, so I like dry cured bacon and home-produced eggs – we don't eat the chickens, though!
Who would you most like to come to dinner?
The thing is that if you ask famous people you don't know you are always on edge, aren't you... We don't do big dinner parties, we do kitchen suppers for six or eight. I find small dinner parties – with close friends you don't have to be on your best behaviour with – are always the best.
Which historical character do you most admire?
Jane Austen for the fact that she achieved what she achieved when she did. She lived about a mile and a half from where I live and so I know her countryside well. My favourite novel of hers is Emma.
What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
I have had a couple of nasty critics write about me in the papers. When I was presenting Pebble Mill, one of them said: 'If you have half a mind to watch Pebble Mill, you will have made ample intellectual provision', which is clever, I suppose. The other one was 'The five most debilitating words in the English Language are "Ladies and Gentleman, Alan Titchmarsh".' But that was a long time ago now.
Do you believe in aliens?
I have never really had a reason not to. I've never seen one, but you never know. I believe in Santa, so why not aliens?
What is your secret vice?
Dark chocolate or America's Next Top Model on the TV. The last one is embarrassing!
Do you write thank-you notes?
Yes I do, in fountain pen.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
I will if I can.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Another day in the week – or another day on the weekend, actually!
What would you like your epitaph to say?
His fingers are a bit greener now.
- You can hear Alan every Saturday morning from 9am on Classic FM, available on 100-102 FM, digital and classicfm.com
- Alan Titchmarsh's The Haunting is out in paperback at the end of August (Hodder & Stoughton, £7.99).
Daily tip from the lady archive
"What makes leisure and holidays delightful is just the fact that they come rarely. If you can have them whenever you like they lose their nature.”The Lady. The Joy of Work. 14th May 1914
Attractive salary and benefits.
Furnished accommodation provided.
Must have excellent references.
Single or couple with partner who could assist with household and garden work.
Drivers licence required.
Must be good with pets.
Contact: Apply Box 15573