The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on November 20, 1999 · 429
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 429

London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Saturday, November 20, 1999
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Television Bowen, meanwhile, still works for iiis design company when he's not filming, writing newspaper columns or buying ever-shinieroucerwear. "Heing on TV was never his goal, believe it or not," says Clifford, "and I think it's good for these people to have a fallback position. They know that fame can be fickle, but if they play it shrewdly, they can set themselves up for life." THE GARDENER Monty Don describes his own elevation to "TV gardener" as "improbable". I n the 80s he was a successful costume jeweller, but by the end of the decade his business had collapsed and he'd retreated to his house in Hertfordshire, where he "gardened like mad, more to take my mind of f things than anything else. Itnever crossed my mind it could be work." Word of his plot spread, however, and he got a Mail On Sunday column, a book deal, and, eventually, a call from Granada, asking him to doascreentestfora regular gardening spot on This Morning. "It was kind of unexpected; I thought it was a joke, but I took to it like a duck Tommy Walsh, from Ground Force, was discovered working in the house of the show's executive producer 99999999 to water. It was less frightening than seeing bankers or lawyers, which I was doinga lot of at the time. The ioo-a-show fee helped too." After 26 1 o-minute spots wit h Richard and Judy, Don was offered general presenting slots on The Holiday Programme and Tomorrow's World. "I was desperate for work, but I wasn't particularly happy going down the presenter route; TV likes bumptious puppies, and I was being promoted as the 'light turn' on Tomorrow's World." He's now returned to gardening, with two Channel 4 shows Lost Gardens and Fork To Fork. "I can be myself more; I don't feel like I've got a TV personality grafted onto my own personality." There are three key elements, he says, to making it as an "ordinary" TV star: "It helps if you look nice, but that's obviously an arbitrary thing, depending on the types the producers are looking for, and you never know if the camera will like you until you see yourself; you've got to be into a little bit of self-promotion, and have an ego that says me me me; and you've got to have the confidence to get people to believe inwhatyou're saying." It's the newbreed's very ordinariness, he believes, that's effected the Reality TV revolution: "I think there was a perception around five years ago that all these identikityoung, blonde, blue-eyed presenters had no life outside TV, and there's been a reaction against that. I mean, Charlie Dimmock isn't 22, and people like hergo on functioningwhen there's no camera pointing at them." "Most presenters," he concludes, "just aren't that interesting. So real people have to fill the gap." Jamie Oliver iuurrently workingon a new series of The Naked Chef; Laurence Liewelyn-Bowen appears on Fantasy Rooms, Wednesday, BBC2; Monty Don hosts Fork To Fork, Sunday, C4 and Lost Gardens, Thursday, C4 G V Making his living from .ftejo.. Monty Don 10 The Guide Nov 20-26 1999

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