Scones debate kicks off Kathy Clugston's Gardeners' Question Time debut

The newsreader was unveiled as the replacement for Eric Robson following his retirement from the Radio 4 programme.

Kathy Clugston’s first episode as chairwoman of Gardeners’ Question Time began with a question, but not of the horticultural kind – do the audience prefer jam or cream first on their scones?

Jam first was a clear winner as the Radio 4 newsreader started her tenure as the first woman to front the long-running BBC programme.

Belfast-born Clugston joins Peter Gibbs, the show’s co-chairman, after she was unveiled as the replacement for Eric Robson following his retirement.

Kathy Clugston
Kathy Clugston (BBC/Radio 4/PA)

The live audience for her first episode was comprised of gardeners from Essex, with panellists Matthew Wilson, Christine Walkden and Matt Biggs offering advice for any horticultural woes.

A rhododendron unwilling to flower dominated the episode at the start, followed by Roy Sussex from Braintree’s question: “How do you get rid of ivy creeping in from next door’s garden, other than moving?”

Clugston, who describes herself as an “amateur gardener”, prompts a laugh from the audience by quizzing the panellists: “Any way Roy can stay in his own house, Matt?”

Listeners can learn the benefits of keeping ivy growing in their garden – as well as tips for tackling it that do not involve uprooting your home.

Musical queries surprisingly crop up too, with Justin from Newcastle emailing in for advice about swapping the steel needle of a wind-up gramophone for the more uncommon choice of a cactus needle.

Tips about soil moisture and low-maintenance plants are also shared with the audience.

Gardeners’ Question Time airs on BBC Radio 4 on Friday May 3.

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