Ground Force

Ground Force is a British garden makeover television series originally broadcast by the BBC between 1997 and 2005. The series was originally hosted by Alan Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock and Tommy Walsh and was produced by Endemol for the BBC.

Ground Force
GenreGardening, makeover
Created byPeter Bazalgette
Presented byAlan Titchmarsh (1997–2002)
Charlie Dimmock
Tommy Walsh
Will Shanahan
Kirsty King
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series12
No. of episodes97
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Endemol UK
Original networkBBC Two (1997)
BBC One (1998–2005)
Original release19 September 1997 (1997-09-19) 
24 July 2005 (2005-07-24)
Related showsGround Force America
Top Ground Gear Force


The series was created by Peter Bazalgette[1] and was first broadcast on 19 September 1997 on BBC Two. In each episode, a team of gardeners make over the garden of an individual who has been nominated by a member of their family or a friend. Whilst that individual is away, the team, assisted by friends and family, make over the garden over two days, and surprise the individual on their return. The team was led by Alan Titchmarsh, presenter of Pebble Mill at One and Gardeners' World, gardener Charlie Dimmock, builder Tommy Walsh and his assistant Will Shanahan. Dimmock met the producer–director of the series five years previously when she built a pond for the Meridian series Grass Roots,.[2] She became known for not wearing a bra.[3] Walsh was invited to take part after completing work on the executive producer's garden.[4]

The series moved to BBC One for the second series.[5] Titchmarsh left in 2002, saying that he felt the series was becoming repetitive and because he wasn't able to work with materials like stainless steel and do intricate brickwork patterns due to time and money constraints.[6] Kirsty King joined the team after Titchmarsh left.

A number of new five-minute segments were filmed for Ground Force Revisited and appended onto repeats of earlier episodes, where Dimmock and Walsh revisited the garden concerned to surprise the owners and see how the gardens had developed.

The series was credited with helping the increase in sales of garden decking in the late 1990s and early 2000s due to its use during the series. Retailer B&Q had sales rise from £5,000 in 1997 to £16 million in 2001.[7] In an interview in the Daily Mail, Titchmarsh said: "I am partly to blame for the decking boom, and I am sorry, I know it's everywhere these days."[6]

The series was cancelled in 2005. Describing its cancellation, BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said that the series was "reaching the end of its natural life" and that "the public do get very cross when they see the BBC flogging a dead horse".[5][8]

At its peak, the series attracted 12 million viewers.[9] Repeats of Ground Force are currently shown on Home.


The theme music for the series was performed by the Black Dyke Band,[10] and included the following pieces:

  • Ground Force Theme— played during the show's opening and closing.
  • The Titchmarsh Warbler— a fast tempo piece usually played during the rush to complete the garden.
  • Lament of the Dandelion— played near the end of the show as Titchmarsh surveyed the completed garden.


The team worked on a number of other special projects, including:

The Ground Force team's final episode was aired in July 2005. It took place in the forecourt of the British Museum in London, where the team designed and created the Africa Garden as part of the Africa 05 celebration,[14] the biggest celebration of African culture organised in the UK. The design of the garden features temperate, tropical and desert zones.

International versions

A New Zealand version of Ground Force aired on TV One from 1998 to 2003. It was titled Firth Ground Force, named after a local concrete and masonry company.

In 2000, the producers sought legal advice after accusing the Nine Network in Australia of producing a "carbon copy" of Ground Force entitled Backyard Blitz. A legitimate Australian version of Ground Force was already in production, and aired shortly after on the Seven Network.[9] While this version of Ground Force was short lived, Backyard Blitz continued on until 2007.

Ground Force America is the American version, presented by Dimmock and Walsh. It began airing in 2003 on BBC America, and it was the channel's first original production. The channel had been airing the UK version since 1999.[15]

Top Ground Gear Force

On 14 March 2008, Top Gear "resurrected" Ground Force in a Sport Relief special called Top Ground Gear Force where the presenters of Top Gear conducted a Ground Force style show on Sir Steve Redgrave's garden, who was livid at the intrusion.[16]


Original series

97 episodes of Ground Force were produced and shown (82 episodes comprising Series 1- 12 plus 15 Specials), as well as an additional 12 episodes that make up Ground Force America:

SeriesStart dateEnd dateEpisodes
119 September 19977 November 19978
230 June 19981 October 199812
312 February 19995 March 19994
415 October 199919 November 19996
510 March 200014 April 20006
66 October 200026 November 20005
722 April 200127 May 20015
87 January 200218 February 20026
92 September 200223 September 20024
1027 January 200313 March 20036
11a1 March 200423 June 20047
11b6 December 200417 January 20055
1224 January 200521 March 20058


Entitle Air Date
Mandela Special2 January 2000
When Changing Rooms Met Ground Force12 February 2000
When Changing Rooms Met Ground Force 224 October 2000
RAF Special11 December 2000
India Special18 April 2001
A Garden for Jill Dando24 August 2001
Goes West Indies3 March 2002
Goes South Atlantic: Falklands16 June 2002
New York25 August 2002
The Italian Job5 December 2002
Goes Festive25 December 2002
Does Mardi Gras21 April 2003
Goes to Ethiopia29 December 2003
On the Road to Marrakech29 December 2004
A Garden for Africa '0524 July 2005

Ground Force America

SeriesStart dateEnd dateEpisodes
121 July 20038 September 20037
25 July 20042 August 20045


  1. Craig Gray, Laura (18 February 2009). "Media revolution: Tomorrow's TV". BBC News Online. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  2. "Meet Charlie Dimmock". Home. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  3. Conlan, Tara. "Titchmarsh quits Ground Force". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  4. "Meet Tommy Walsh". Home. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  5. Born, Matt (4 March 2005). "Ground Force axed by BBC before its viewing figures wilt". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  6. Boshoff, Alison. "Ditch the decking: Titchmarsh". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  7. "The rise of the green-fingered criminal". The Independent. 15 April 2001. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  8. "Ground Force 'coming to its end'". BBC News Online. 3 March 2005. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  9. Robins, Jane (27 April 2000). "Ground Force may sue Australian 'copy'". The Independent. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  10. Herbert, Ian (4 July 2000). "Black Dyke band sacking leaves top trumpeter feeling brassed off". The Independent. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  11. "A memorial to Jill Dando". The Weston Mercury. Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  12. "Ground Force creates NY tribute". BBC News Online. 15 August 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  13. "Mandela's green-fingered makeover". BBC News Online. 14 December 1999. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  14. "An Africa Garden". British Museum. Archived from the original on 31 October 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  15. Robertson, Colin (27 January 2003). "Ground Force crosses the pond". Broadcast. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  16. Top Gear: Top Garden Ground Gear Force Archived 15 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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