The recently started ‘Big Allotment Challenge’ being shown on BBC2 has brought about very varying reviews. You have the Media giving their opinion (most of them probably not seen a Vegetable outside of a Supermarket) and the hardened Vegetable Gardeners themselves. However both seem to have their somewhat low opinions of it all.
The idea is more or less the same as many other Programmes, you are set tasks or practice your skill and week by week someone gets voted out until the Winner is the last one standing. A bit of a Carrot Growers version of The Great British Bake Off or Masterchef.
Because of the similar format this obviously makes people watch out for errors and compare.
So, 8 pairs of keen Allotmenteers are given a Plot each and have some three months or so to grow what they can from the Seeds provided.
The first thing which really stands out is that all the Allotment areas are neatly set out with brand new Greenhouses and the Soil is perfectly mixed and ready to grow. For the average normal starter to this life usually has the hard slog of using a Cultivator to get the seven year growth of Weeds out and will spend quite a bit of money on the proper mixtures and so on.
Each programme is split into three parts; 1. Showing a Vegetable 2. A Flower Arrangement of sorts and 3.Cooking a Jam, Chutney, Relish or Sauce etc.
A ‘Best in Show’ is awarded to each Category Winners and the worse couple overall get their marching orders out the gate (it would seem they don’t take any vegetables with them!!)
Like ‘The Apprentice’ the BBC have selected a range of fairly different people from fairly different backgrounds including two ladies who appear to have spent rather a long time in the make up department and go around in Clothes you’d normally wear to watch a Show in! But why not, they’re excellent at what they do, what they wear doesn’t matter and I know from the previous Allotment Show one of them was on, they have a Shed to remember. Good for them.
So be it, that’s good TV if you like, the viewer soon gets to know them, some will get praise and some will make people want to throw their Supper at the TV Screen!
The biggest Critics are Vegetable Gardeners themselves of course, the problem being that not many people who don’t do or want to have a Veggie Patch will actually tune in anyway. So the programme is wide open to the niche audience it attracts.
I know people who have slated the Programme but nearly reminded them of the stringy Runner Beans and absolutely terrible jar of Chutney they produced last year!
But!!! All is not lost; I’m a keen Vegetable Grower myself and although the programme’s Allotments look like Buckingham Palace compared to mine, in between the obvious ‘for TV’ sections you’ll notice quite a few things you either didn’t know or seen an alternative method being carried out.
The cooking bit could be a bit more informative rather than the Judge simply saying “it’s a bit sweet”. Maybe why it is a good question to ask and give a tip to make it better the next time.
I rather enjoy it, it’s not cooking, it’s not about buying houses, it’s not about winning thousands of £’s for knowing virtually nothing.
Let it run, if only a hundred people watch it and decide to grow their own and produce their own produce it’s worth it. We keep hearing how our food is going to run out in XX amount of years, so to promote the simpler more self reliant lifestyle has to be good doesn’t it?