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Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Ground Force row Down Under
Groundforce presenters
The Groundforce team
The makers of top BBC gardening show Ground Force are considering legal action against an Australian TV channel which they claim pinched their idea.

GMG Endemol Entertainment - the parent company of Ground Force producer Bazal - and the BBC are taking advice over Backyard Blitz, which is broadcast on The Nine Network.

They claim the show is a direct copy of the popular UK programme, presented by Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock.


Charlie Dimmock
Standing her ground: Charlie Dimmock in the garden

The rumpus comes just as a rival Australian channel, The Seven Network, plans to broadcast a legitimate version of Ground Force.

The Nine Network already screens a fully licenced version of another BBC makeover programme, Changing Rooms, which is also owned by Bazal.

Astonishing

GMG Endemol creative director Peter Bazalgette said: "The fact that they already have a format deal with us for that show makes it even more astonishing."

The international format rights for Ground Force, which is shown in four continents, are jointly owned by GMG Endemol and the BBC.

The show is regularly watched by up to 12 million viewers, earning a 47% audience share on BBC One and has recently been sold to Public Broadcasting Service station WNET in the United States.


Alan Titchmarsh
Wicker man: Groundforce presenter Alan Titchmarsh

A spokesman for GMG Endemol said the format for Backyard Blitz was very similar to Ground Force.

In each episode, a husband or wife gets in the team to sort out the garden while their partner is away.

The series, like Ground Force, also has a male-female presenting team, with the woman adding the touch of glamour Dimmock has bought to gardening in the UK.

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See also:

29 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Geoff tops garden gurus
25 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Titchmarsh is top TV gardener
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