South Yorkshire gardener Rob aims for TV win

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A South Yorkshire allotment grower is aiming to be crowned winner in a TV gardening contest after making it all the way to the semi-final.

Rob Smith is one of the leading faces in the Big Allotment Challenge, broadcast on BBC Two on Friday nights.

Tonight’s show sees Rob, from Kiveton Park, battling through the penultimate episode in the hope of reaching the final.

The 35-year-old, who works as a cabin crew member for a transatlantic airline, said it was ‘brilliant’ to get so far in the competition.

“It’s quite daunting now that it’s real and I’m in with a chance of winning,” he added.

Each challenge comprises three tasks – grow, make and eat – overseen by judges Jim Buttress, Thane Prince and Jonathan Moseley, florist to Chatsworth House.

Last week Rob impressed with his cherry tomatoes – praised for their ‘lovely sheen’ – and picked up best in show for a rudbeckia arrangement, but a pair of sweet and savoury jams drew some disapproving comments.

Tonight he can be seen growing okra, making a helichrysum table swag and getting to grips with pickles and chutneys.

Rob’s journey to the nation’s TV screens began with a Twitter message from the show’s production team received out of the blue. He was offered a place on the programme within hours of a screen test.

The show was filmed in Oxfordshire last year.

Rob became a keen allotment grower as a child, using a patch of land beside his parents’ house in Killamarsh.

Eight years ago he moved back up North from Brighton and took a plot in Todwick, Rotherham. The allotment is a welcome break from his day job, he said. “Sometimes when you’re flying around the world you just want to be at home – it does ground you, although I know that sounds like a pun!”