Landscape Man: All Mouth And No Trowels
LANDSCAPE MAN: Thursday 22nd April, Channel 4, 8pm ALERT ME
Landscape Man conjures up special images. A leotarded Alan Titchmarsh, perhaps, in green lycra. A spade the emblazoned insignia on his front, he carries a utility belt with trowels, weed killer and clippers. Fighting the evil nemesis Father Nature, he must try and combat all his dastardly exuberance, and seek to craft beautiful gardens and vistas across the land whilst being infinitely appealing to people over 60.
Alas, on watching this offering, we do not get a crap superhero, but a rather underwhelming programme and presenter playing at being a failed version of Grand Designs.
It is clear that Landscape Man is designed to satisfy the same type of audience that Grand Designs commands, but for gardens, and it attempts to do so by following the same structure in this quest. There’s a gargantuan task that must be overcome, a back-story to manifest sympathy for the people involved, and an overriding feeling of desire for everyone to win.
However, unlike with the housing version – I just didn’t care. Now, this could be linked to the fact I don’t have as much of an interest in beautiful gardens as I do impressive housing architecture – but the whole atmosphere of it as a show erred on the side of Tuesday afternoon, ITV, with Ben Fogle. It’s the type of post-3pm guilt-ridden viewing you save only for work avoidance and having to spend time with bland relatives on a non-descript September day. It’s not going to be repeated on More 4 and Dave.
In this episode we have a garden obsessed couple who live in a shed so they can cultivate a huge flower garden to open to the public. As is the case with all reality-construction programmes known to the universe, they bite off more they can chew and there are unforeseen obstacles to overcome. Landscape Man does his best Kevin McCloud impression in the background to highlight and question the tasks ahead – dropping carefully contrived softly-spoken doubt and reservations tactfully into the narrative mix.
There are all these talking heads, ‘It’s not just a crazy man with a digger and a garden’, told in an attempt to instil some poignancy, a hint of significance perhaps. It’s more than that, this is important. It’s about re-establishing lives. Indeed, true to lots of trivial television these days – there needs to be a risk, a reason…pathos and salvation.
The impending doom that it might not work out is woven in throughout, but, try as I might – I continued not to care. Landscape Man in a fleece saying things like ‘memories of his childhood with his father are spurring him on to finish’ cause more annoyance than compassion. I just want Kevin McCloud, or ‘House Man’, to come round the corner and liberate me with some impossible blue print for a hexagon shaped house in the middle of a motorway. Saving that, I’d sooner watch Ground Force.