BBC launches new gardening allotment TV programme on CBeebies next week

CBeebies gardening show Mr Bloom's Nursery launches on 7 February.

CBeebies begins Mr Bloom's Nursery programme - image: BBC
CBeebies begins Mr Bloom's Nursery programme - image: BBC

The 26-part children's show features an allotment looked after Mr Bloom filled with talking vegetables: a shy cabbage, mischievous radishes, a comedy runner bean and a singing aubergine.

Garden writer Dawn Isaacs has given horticultural advice to the live action and puppet series.

Set in a colourful, fertile allotment run by the green-fingered Mr Bloom (Ben Faulks), Mr Bloom's Nursery, aims to show how young children can learn from the experience of nurturing plants and vegetables.

In each episode, a team of young helpers, or "tiddlers", come to the allotment to help Mr Bloom tend his plants and produce. But when they add leaves and clippings to his homemade "compostarium", a group of lively young vegetable puppets spring to life who the children play with, teach and care for.

Children will learn a variety of important lessons including the importance of drinking water when it is hot and sunny to understanding that growing takes time as well as simple vegetable-growing tips.

In Monday's episode, the veggies compete to do the stretchiest stretch at aerobics and win a prize. It seems Raymond the Butternut Squash won't be the winner as he's fallen fast asleep. On Tuesday, the tiddlers and Mr Bloom learn all about how rubbish can be turned into something useful when they look at composting worms. How will the Wee MacGregors take leftover art materials and help Margaret achieve her dream of becoming a space cabbage? On Wednesday, Mr Bloom, the tiddlers and the veggies learn the importance of teamwork as they all join forces to uproot a giant turnip. In Thursday's episode, Margaret bravely parts with something very close to her cabbage heart – her precious comfort blanket. And, on Friday, bossy Joan runs her House of Fennel fashion show – with some rather muddy models.

The programme's title actor, Ben Faulks said:

"The original concept for Mr Bloom's Nursery came from a piece of walkabout theatre that I developed in 2006, called Vegetable Nannies, which involved dressing up real fruits and vegetables as babies and pushing them around in a pram.

"I was playing a gardener who loved his vegetables and wanted to take them for a day out. It was very interactive and aimed at engaging with children and their families by getting them to feed the vegetables, change their nappies and care for them like little babies.

"That toured for a few years and then I started looking for ways to develop it into a television show, which led to a meeting with CBeebies."

In August last year, Ben found himself in a specially created allotment in Manchester where he made the world of Mr Bloom come alive for local children.

"It's really important to me that kids can go outside and use their imaginations. In the allotment we let children roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and get hands-on with vegetables. I hope that it inspires them and proves that vegetables shouldn't be something alien that lands on their plates."

Some 45 children from across the North West of England were involved in the making of Mr Bloom's Nursery.

Faulks said: "The most important thing is the theme of nurture. The idea is that it's a nursery for growing vegetables but because the vegetables talk and express their feelings, what goes on inside is just the same as the daily lives of children in pre-school nurseries."

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