North Korea TV censors blur Alan Titchmarsh’s trousers to hide “symbol of American imperialism”


A North Korean broadcast of Alan Titchmarsh’s Garden Secrets has hit the headlines after an item of the gardener’s clothing was blurred.

Central TV, a state-owned television service, aired a 2010 episode the BBC show on Monday (March 25). In the episode, Titchmarsh, now 74, can be seen pottering about the gardens of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, providing information, horticultural advice and relaxed viewing.

The episode features North Korean narration over the top of Titchmarsh’s calm commentary, but there’s another edit to the clip which surprised some viewers.

Titchmarsh’s jeans, which can be seen in clips of him kneeling down and attending to some plants, have been blurred. The outline and colour of the denim is still relatively clear, but there has been a clear attempt to mask this specific attire.

Since the early 1990s, there has been a ban on wearing jeans, brought in by former leader Kim Jong-il, who believed they were a symbol of Western imperialism, according to BBC.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on August 24, 2011. CREDIT: Getty/Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

An article by NKNews reported: “The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) reportedly views jeans as a “symbol of American imperialism” given their close association with the U.S.”

Titchmarsh was reportedly “surprised” to hear that the programme had made it onto North Korean screens, as the broadcasting of Western television is extremely rare, due to the strict regimes in place to prohibit foreign culture leaking into the country.

According to a 2014 report by The Sunday Times (via BBC), there was an attempt by BBC Studios (formerly BBC Worldwide) and the Foreign office to “open [the North Korean] people’s eyes to the world beyond the closed republic without offending the regime.”

A Whitehall official was quoted in the paper saying: “Programmes sent to North Korea would have to be something that isn’t offensive, like Mr Bean, EastEnders, Miss Marple or Poirot.”

They continued: “You couldn’t send Dad’s Army, as it is about war. But Teletubbies could be an option, or The Good Life, with a bit of gardening and squabbling in the kitchen”.

While it is unconfirmed whether Garden Secrets is being provided to the country, the programme does seem to fit the criteria of inoffensive, easy viewing – until now.

Titchmarsh added that the news had given him some “street cred”, according to the BBC. He explained: “I’ve never seen myself as a dangerous subversive imperialist – I’m generally regarded as rather cosy and pretty harmless, so actually it’s given me a bit of street cred really hasn’t it?”


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