Banbury pair on BBC allotment challenge

Shirley and Victoria Minnear are appearing on the BBC programme The Big Allotment Challenge.
Shirley and Victoria Minnear are appearing on the BBC programme The Big Allotment Challenge.

A mother and daughter from Banbury are aiming to dig their way to victory in new BBC show The Big Allotment Challenge.

Shirley and Victoria Minnear of Waller Drive are one of nine pairs of contestants on the TV show, which premiered on BBC Two on Tuesday from Mapledurham House in Oxfordshire.

Dubbed the ‘Great British rake off’, the show is hosted by Fern Britton.

Victoria, 23, said: “Our family has always been interested in gardening. My grandparents had their own garden and we all picked it up from there. We have a few vegetables that we grow in our garden at home, and when we found out we were going to be on the show we were quite shocked!”

Over six hour-long episodes, the series will challenge the gardeners to plot, plant and prune their 10mx12m allotment to harvest a series of prize-winning vegetables, fruits and flowers. The pair that fails to impress each week will leave the allotment for good.

In Tuesday’s programme, the pair won Best in Show in the ‘Grow’ challenge, impressing award-winning horticulturist Jim Buttress with their Scarlet Globe radishes.

In the ‘Make’ challenge they impressed floral designer Jonathan Moseley with their hand picked bouquet and seven spikes of Sweet Pea. They also treated preserves judge Thane Prince to their handmade blackcurrant jam and strawberry curd in the ‘Eat’ challenge.

Mrs Minnear, 53, said: “The allotments on the show are in an absolutely beautiful environment. Mapledurham House is about 500 years old and has a lot of history to it, so it felt like being in paradise.

“We loved the team spirit on the show. It is so friendly but it got quite emotional when people began to leave.”

The pair also enjoy working at their allotment in Easington with Mrs Minnear’s husband John and Victoria’s three sisters. After being told they were going to appear on the show, they spent a month planning the different vegetables, fruit and flowers they were going to grow. Miss Minnear said: “There was so much stuff we needed to grow in a number of weeks and on a relatively small plot. We work well together as a team and learnt a lot of new things.”

The next episode of the Big Allotment Challenge will be on Tuesday on BBC Two at 8pm.