‘I’ve been in people’s homes for so long they treat me like a friend’ says Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour author Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarsh will be at Hitchin Town Hall on Tuesday.

Alan Titchmarsh will be at Hitchin Town Hall on Tuesday. - Credit: Archant

Alan Titchmarsh is a nice man. You can tell that by the way he apologies for phoning the Comet two minutes early to talk about his visit to Hitchin Town Hall to publicise his new book.

He comes across as humble, which might be due to his down-to-earth Yorkshire upbringing. His mother Bessie was a textile mill worker and his father, Alan senior, was a plumber. Or perhaps he is just an old school broadcaster with manners in the modern age. Either way it makes a pleasant surprise.

A sprightly 67, the former host of BBC gardening show Groundforce first came to Herts when he studied at the college of agriculture and horticulture at Oaklands in St Albans, before he made his way to the world famous Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, West London.

His big break was as a horticulture expert on the BBC magazine programme Nationwide in the early 70s and he’s never really looked back, spending four decades on our screens as a gardener and broadcaster.

The former Gardeners’ World host has penned more than 50 books on the nation’s favourite pastime, as well as having 10 best-sellers as an author of fiction. His latest tome, Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour, published earlier this month – which brought him to his Hitchin Town event in association with David’s Bookshop in Letchworth.

“I suppose because I’ve been in people’s homes for so long they treat me like a friend,” says Alan.

“I see myself as a people person. I like meeting people, and for someone in the public eye it’s important to be able to meet your audience and your readers.

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“I’ve got a whirlwind schedule on the BBC and various other channels and shows to promote the book, and I’ve been at Prince Charles’ Highgrove – which at least assured me of an audience!

“But it’s also important to connect with your readers by talking to local papers and local bookshops – David’s Bookshop has been great.

“I’ve been writing fiction since 1998. It’s funny when someone asks me when I started writing fiction because it’s already been nearly 20 years!

“I see myself as a gardener, author, and broadcaster. I enjoy them all but I like the solitude of writing in my barn. I love writing.

“I also like the sociability of TV. When I have my fill of solitude I go back to the sociability of TV. The television will go before the writing.

“I want my readers to enjoy my books and get value for money. I don’t want to short-change anyone.”

Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour published by Hodder and Stoughton, £18.99.