Is Chelsea too 'Radio 2'?

Matthew Appleby

A friend Whatsapped me to ask if I was going to Chelsea? I said 'yes, are you?' He said he's been offered a ticket but it was "too Radio 2" for him. How ungrateful, I thought.

Then I wondered what he meant. At the show I did see Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley, who was wearing the same design of dress as Dragon's Den's Deborah Meaden.

Whiley opened a Dobbies garden centre last year and does a bit of garden TV presenting, as well as playing 1990s indie hits on Radio 2. Meaden was judge for Chelsea sustainable product of the year, which used to be just product of the year.

My associate is a fan of BBC Radio 6. I've never seen that station's Stuart Maconie or Steve Lamacq at Chelsea, but Cerys Matthews is a regular.

I think my associate means the chatter at Chelsea is of a quite Radio 2 middle-class nature, the sort of thing they discuss on Jeremy Vine's show. Angst about our carbon footprint, Just Stop Oil, not mowing, rewilding, peat and plastic, as well as royalty, are have been themes this year. Radio 6 types tend to be more progressive than Radio 2 listeners on these subjects. They are snooty about Kate Middleton and Waitrose.

Monty Don has said Chelsea is too white and middle class, two things Radio 6 listeners usually are, but would rather not be. Chelsea actually used to be more Monty-style Radio 4 than (his fellow Chelsea TV presenter) Nicky Chapman-style Radio 2 (chirpy Chapman another Radio 2 broadcaster) but has popularised/dumbed down in recent years.

Five Radio 2 'feel good' gardens featured at Chelsea 2017. Whiley, Chris Evans, Anneka Rice, Vine and Zoe Ball had gardens made for them.

Maybe for 2024 a set of Radio 6 Chelsea gardens could tempt my associate along. Listeners love live music, Keir Starmer and David Bowie and dislike royalty, so maybe gardens themed around that?

However the Just Stop Oil protest at the 2023 show brought home Chelsea lovers attitudes. The majority condemned the action, while Radio 6-types applauded it.

The bottom line is Radio 6 fans think they are cool, while Radio 2 listeners know they aren't, which implies Chelsea is not a cool event, which still matters to some adults, for better or worse.

Read These Next

Dutch ornamenta exports on a map

Post-Brexit data shows plant imports rising and exports falling

Post-Brexit imports into the UK have increased with multiple sources showing how we have not improved import substitution despite the promises of Brexit, with the Netherlands the remaining the largest trading partner.

Salix cuttings (L to R): acutifolia ‘Blue Streak’, alba var. vitellina, daphnoides, alba var. vitellina ‘Yelverton’, irrorata and rubra ‘Eugenei’ - credit all images: Bob Askew

Salix - these wonderful willows will add colour and beauty to the garden

Nepalese Orange has gorgeous rich orange bark, peeling in coppery-orange strips and prominent lenticels

Betula - some colourful alternative birches to the usual suspects


Partner Content

Botrytis on cyclamen with ghost spotting

Act now to get ahead of Botrytis

Presented by Fargro