Long-running series Gardeners’ World is to go back to basics after a root and branch revamp proved a turn-off for viewers.
Critics of the BBC2 show, based in Birmingham, have accused it of abandoning long-term growers in favour of trying to win over viewers who were new to the garden.
Former presenter Gay Search is among those who have been unhappy with the new-look show whose audience dipped below two million for the first time last year under new main host Toby Buckland.
Now programme bosses have admitted they have made mistakes and will return to satisfying their “core” audience. The Friday night show expanded to hour-long episodes last year and introduced features such as the “30-minute challenge” in which presenters competed to create items such as hanging baskets.
There was also a section in which the hosts retired to a potting shed to discuss emails which was soon abandoned.
Now executive producer Gill Tierney has said they will “refocus” the format - and half an hour is to been pruned from the show.
She told Radio Times: “Change is always difficult and sometimes you don’t get it completely right. We have listened to the audience and have taken the criticism on the chin which is why we are making the changes we are making.
“We are simply going to refocus to satisfy the needs of our core audience.”
Writing in the magazine, Search said the demise set in after previous host Monty Don left the show for health reasons.
“His enforced departure signalled what I and many other loyal viewers saw as a deliberate - and unwelcome - change in direction that caused damage to the channel’s reputation for serious gardening.
“Gardeners I’ve met at horticultural societies or in garden centres are almost unanimous in feeling that the programme is now targeting younger, less experienced gardeners at the expense of older, more knowledgeable ones.”
She added: “It will be a much simpler offering, there’ll be nothing fancy going on. We just want to make sure that we are completely relevant and topical - we want to make sure we don’t miss any vital parts of the gardening year.”
The forthcoming series will be longer, returning in March and continuing until October to catch more of the gardening year.
Tierney said: “It will be a much simpler offering, there’ll be nothing fancy going on. We just want to make sure that we are completely relevant and topical - we want to make sure we don’t miss any vital parts of the gardening year.”
Buckland will continue as presenter.
A BBC spokesman said it was important to cater to a range of gardening needs. “There are new people becoming interested in gardening all the time and we need to make programmes that they will enjoy as well.”
New shows featuring Gardeners’ World presenters Carol Klein and Alys Fowler will launch later this year.