TWO of TV’s best-known characters – Monty Don and Bill Turnbull – attracted a packed crowd for a unique night at Monmouth’s Blake Theatre.

The duo were in town last Thursday (January 30) to help publicise and raise funds for Bees for Development, the international charity based in the town.

The only subjects that were taboo for most of the evening were specifics about gardening, so there was plenty of time to find out about both stars’ views and stories. 

There were many revelations for the audience of 500 who had travelled from Scotland, East Anglia and the South Coast of England.

Monty Don has a familiar persona on screen that he says results from conversing with the camera lens as he would his Aunt Mary.

Some surprising facts emerged, such as his rebellious childhood which involved him being expelled twice from school.

Photographic evidence of Monty’s fashion choices in the 1980s introduced an episode of his life with business success in jewellery and fashion, but money troubles then followed.

This contributed to depression which he found debilitating and hard to admit to, but it led to his gardening passion coming to the fore.

Bill Turnbull isn’t known for having green fingers – he’s not a gardener at all, in fact – and he regaled the audience with stories of how a life in the public eye has led to improbable events, ranging from doing not so well in competition on Strictly Come Dancing to inadvertently drinking rum from a human skull.

More recently, he has presented programmes in which he talks about living with cancer, while keeping busy life presenting with Classic FM.

Monty and Bill are both patrons of Bees for Development, and they enthused about the work the charity does to help some of the world’s poorest people make a living through beekeeping.

Bees for Development thanked the Blake Theatre and its staff for the use of their theatre.

Raffle prizes included a night’s stay for two at the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny with a Brecon Beacons Foraging guided tour the following day, and fine dining at the Tudor Farmhouse Hotel in Clearwell.