The Seasons with Alan Titchmarsh review


After spring inevitably comes summer, and as we gradually move into everybody’s favourite season Alan Titchmarsh is on hand to state the obvious in the second episode of his new documentary series.

To call this a documentary is a bit of a stretch though - with a subject as broad and non-specific as the summer it was always going to be a challenge to convey any new or particularly useful information - and with Titchmarsh at the helm; almost impossible.

With that expectation out the window however, this warm bath of a programme washes over you like the season itself, as Alan proclaims early on, ‘it’s not just the plants that flower, we people do as well’. Cue innumerable shots of lush open fields, frolicking animals and blossoming flowers.

Questions are asked and answers are given - the causes of summer are discussed, the origins of the summer solstice and the phrase dog days, why animals give birth and plants flower – but no explanation goes into nearly enough detail, and when things threaten to get too much like a real nature doc, the camera pulls away and we move onto another banal cliché.

All the obvious British summertime points of interest are covered in this fleeting style: the growth in English winemaking, the important role of the lifeboat service, cockling, the annoyance of flying insects, and quaint English summertime traditions like the Henley Regatta, swan upping and reed harvesting.

It’s all very nice and reassuring, even the death of 23 Chinese cockle pickers and the threat of rain to our native bees and butterflies are portrayed in such a cotton wool-wrapped way that teatime viewers won’t feel any lasting worry.

ITV have never been any good at serious documentaries, and this generic bit of programming only strengthens this point, but for the Titchmarsh loving target audience this is bang on the money; inoffensive, status-quo maintaining, British fare.