Monty Don: Gardeners’ World host slams ‘complaining’ critics as he defends BBC licence fee

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Gardeners’ World host Monty Don regularly entertains viewers with his extensive horticultural knowledge and gardening expertise. The 65-year-old presenter took to Twitter and hit out at the criticism the BBC has faced over the licence fee.

The small-screen star compared “complaints” over the licence fee to people who would complain about “paying for state schools” if they had chosen to “privately-educate” their children.

His comments come after the corporation came under fire by furious Britons who have called for the mandatory TV licence fee to be scrapped.

Around three million households currently pay £157.50 for a colour licence and £57 for a black and white licence.

Over recent weeks, the BBC has also faced backlash after scrapping free TV licences for over-75s.

Monty has since taken to Twitter and addressed the criticism as he defended BBC’s decision to charge Britons.

In view of his 197,000 followers, he penned: “There is much that could be improved about the BBC but it remains a national treasure.

“To complain about paying the BBC licence fee because you do not use or like it, is like complaining about paying for state schools if you choose to educate your children privately.”

The gardening expert was inundated with comments and over 1,000 likes, but opinion was divided.

One person agreed: “Monty is right. You can choose to privately educate, just as you can choose to subscribe to Sky and only watch their content. Through taxation you HAVE to pay for state schools, even if you don’t use them, just like you have to pay for the BBC through the licence fee.”(sic)

“Well said, Monty. I agree with you. Lots of very good broadcasting on the BBC,” another person commented.

However, a third person said: “Unfortunately I have to disagree with you. Haven’t got a choice in paying for a TV licence, but paying for education is a choice. Very refreshing though that replies to your tweet are calm, polite and respectful. You’re a good influence!”

Another person remarked: “I am not entirely sure I agree with your statement. The BBC, first and foremost is a public broadcaster required to provide information and entertainment for all.”


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The corporation recently sparked fury by pressing ahead with its decision to scrap the universal free TV licence for the elderly age group.

The BBC is now means-testing the entitlement, meaning over-75s must receive pension credit to receive the free TV licence, which costs £157.50 per year.

Elsewhere, Monty had a reason to celebrate as the gardening expert and author revealed he was “enormously flattered” to learn that his new book was in the top ten of the bestsellers list.

His latest release My Garden World has gone all the way to the number two spot.

Sharing his delight, Monty penned: “Just been told that my book ‘My Garden World’ has gone straight in at No 2 on this week’s Sunday Times bestseller list.”

The publication, which features a personal journey through the natural year looking more closely at garden wildlife, was released just under a week ago.

“Enormously flattered and thank you to all of you who have bought copies and made this happen,” the chuffed gardener went on to say.

Gardeners’ World airs Friday on BBC One at 8pm.

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