BBC2 Gardeners’ World viewing figures have plunged to a new low of 1.49m during the Olympics, while ABC data on consumer gardening magazines shows a drop in interest.
Guardian critic John Crace said the Joe Swift, Anneka Rice and Phil Tufnell makeover show The Flowerpot Gang was "a desperately dull hour of padded-out TV; the sort of programme that might just do as a Sunday afternoon filler, but had no place on a weekday primetime slot. Not that I want to deter television personalities from getting involved in worthwhile community projects; I would just rather they did so when there are no cameras around."
Viewing figures plunged to 2.77m in the second episode of four on 22 August, just 14 per cent of the audience. Half a million turned over after the preceding BBC1 programme Helicopter Heroes and 2m turned back on for the programme that followed the gardening show, Who Do You Think You Are?
Digital Spy commenter The Illusionist said: "Danny Cohen should resign for putting the flowerpot thingy on at a prime time slot." Another commenter on the website, 'Iain DB', said: "Oh dear for The Flowerpot Gang last night. BBC1 may be looking even more longingly at the Great British Bake Off ratings this morning than they were yesterday morning."
The Flowerpot Men drew 3.43m on 15 August, 15.9 per cent of viewers.
Meanwhile, leading paid-for monthly BBC Gardeners’ World magazine fell 4.1 per cent to 254,530 copies sold in the six months to the end of June 2012 from 265,328 in the six months to the end of June 2011.
Leading weekly Amateur Gardening fell 3.5 per cent to 37,718. Garden Answers was down 6.5 per cent to 18,566 and Garden News fell 1.8 per cent to 29,792. Gardens Illustrated was up 4.1 per cent to 35,701, while RHS The Garden membership magazine was up 4.4 per cent to 359,897.
A BBC spokeswoman said: "The Flowerpot Gang was an original format which went beyond just gardening to bring together local communities and encourage them to get involved in transforming their local environments.
"We are glad that we were able to try something new and - with 3.4 million viewers - we are pleased at how many people have tuned in to watch Anneka, Joe and Phil.
"We are proud that the innovative and interactive shape of the series offered the audience a meaningful way to get involved and become part of The Flowerpot Gang."