Nicki Chapman is an instantly recognisable face and voice from Tv and Radio for many years, From Pop Idol to RHS Chelsea Flower Show to BBC Radio2 and Wanted Down Under, She truly is one versatile lady. You can catch her presently presenting BBCs Escape to the Country and early mornings on BBC Radio 2
Dan: Hi Nicki, and welcome to Who’s on the Grapevine. How have you been during these troubling few months?
Nicki: I’ve been fine thank you, grateful my parents and family haven’t been directly affected by Covid and taking each day as it comes. My garden has been my sanctuary!
Dan: I enjoyed watching you front the BBC coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year with a v different format to usual? How did you find it personally not actually being there with the buzz and feel of the occasion, and with everyone on a screen in front of you?
Nicki: I think we were so excited about there being a different version of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, after hearing the actual event had been cancelled. After spending 5 or so weeks in my garden, I was very proud to show it off to the viewers. My garden is small, but the weather has been so kind and all the effort I’d happily put in showed on screen! I think my two palms stole the show haha.
Dan: It was yours and everyone’s first year presenting the show virtually, how many Chelsea’s have you fronted now? Do you think that there are certain aspects of the virtual presenting of the show that could be carried over to subsequent years, people seemed to react v well to the format?
Nicki: You can never beat the excitement and buzz of Chelsea, it’s the perfect place for designers to excel, for the plants men and woman to show off their incredible nurseries and launch new plants. I’m happy after 14 years or so to film at home, but nothing beats the actual show itself.
Dan: Your also back on tv with Greatest Escapes to the Country, a compilation of the most memorable houses of the, is it 15 series worth of programmes? How did your original involvement come about with Escape to the Country? And I have to say what great fun it looks, have there been any places you fancied putting an offer in for yourself?
Nicki: We’ve loved this opportunity to show some of the best of the best rural properties from the shows. After 20 series, it was a hard choice to select just a few. Some of my favourite counties are Dorset, Shropshire and Yorkshire – I’m married to a Yorkshire man so have to say that!
Dan: Nicki tell us a bit more about your own garden at home? What was the thinking behind how you designed it to fit round your busy life? And I am probably hoping, do you have a little veg garden tucked away somewhere?
Nicki: My garden is small and enclosed, and I love it. In an ideal world I’d like something slightly larger but living in a city, that’s not going to happen. I’m seriously considering giving it an overall later this Autumn and Mark Gregory and his fantastic team are looking at some new designs.
Dan: Nicki you are a well-travelled lady with Wanted Down Under, taking you to the other end of the world. I don’t know if you are like me, but even when you are on a beach in a beautiful lush tropical paradise, do you still pine (just a little bit) for old blighty? I think we are v lucky in this country to have such a fabulous variety of landscapes on our doorsteps?
Nicki: I’m fortunate enough to have travelled with work to many exotic places around the world. Let’s hope that can continue next year as I miss getting on a plane. The UK will always be my home but I have to say visiting incredible places like India, Vietnam, Cambodia, The Amazon and of course Australia is one of the best parts of my career. Passport, suitcase packed… and I’m happy.
Dan: Have you noticed one thing around you in lockdown that has always been there, but you maybe never noticed or appreciated as much?
Nicki: I’ve enjoyed the quieter pace of life, spending more time in my garden than normal and the simple chores which haven’t had to be rushed! I’ve also learnt to cook for the first time!
Dan: Lastly whats Nicky Chapman got planed for the future any exciting new projects you want to get of the ground or new programmes we should know about?
Nicki: I’m back on Radio 2 sitting in for Vanessa (so lots of early mornings) and then will start filming a new series of Escape to the Country into the Autumn. All socially distanced of course!