It’s been touted as “Bake Off with plants” – but Netflix’s latest offering in The Big Flower Fight is so much more than that, say its hosts.
Switching out iced cakes for literal floral fancies, the eight-part series – a major unscripted competition format – sees 10 creative teams square off in a bid to create the most outlandishly beautiful flower installations.
Think enormous garden sculptures festooned with foliage; 10-foot-high hairy animals made out of thousands of grasses, and stunning couture creations set for Floral Fashion Week.
“There are some very, very keen people who produce these magnificent structures almost out of nothing, and very quickly,” muses Vic Reeves, who co-hosts proceedings alongside What We Do In The Shadows star Natasia Demetriou.
“On the first day, you go in and there’s nothing, and by the end of that day there’s something quite incredible happening.
“They’re so passionate about it and it’s great to see anyone with that amount of passion producing anything.”
But it’s more than just plant-based sculptures: “It’s also good drama,” says 61-year-old Reeves, who delightedly filmed the show last summer.
“We see how (the contestants) contend with the briefs – and by the end of it they just get bigger and bigger and more complicated and difficult to do. It’s unbelievable.”
“Every now and then you get used to it and it’s like: ‘Oh, they’re going to knock up something really impressive,’” Demetriou, 37, concurs. “Then you see them and you’re like, wow!”
But the stakes are certainly high, for failing to impress judge and florist to the stars, Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht, with a larger-than-life structure comes at a steep price: elimination.
With one pair voted off at the end of each episode, the remaining competitors are vying for the series win, which bestows the ultimate honour of designing a sculpture to be displayed in London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
So who are these contestants – and just how cut-throat does it get?
“There’s a good amount of gardeners who know all the flowers, but there’s quite a lot who are as naive as me,” teases Reeves, who describes his and Demetriou’s role as the conduit between the contestants and the audience.
“But they know how to make things look good from a sculptural point of view and there’s some great characters there; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with this amount of big characters in one place.
“It’s not Gardeners’ World, it’s punk rock gardening,” the comedy great jokes. “I was looking around yesterday and thinking: ‘A lot of the people here could be in bands.’
“It looks like a documentary about some rock and rollers instead of gardeners. It’s really good.”
“I don’t want to sound fake, but I genuinely love them,” says Demetriou. You get to know them so well. They’re all amazing, and lovely, and funny, and weird.”
As for the competitive edge: “They were all very friendly but there are elements where you’ll see people stealing other people’s plants – there was some underhand stuff happening now and then,” admits Reeves.
“On the whole, though, (the niceness) isn’t fake,” Demetriou jumps in.
Another big tick for viewers is the show’s commitment to conservation, with participants encouraged to think about plants which give back to the environment – such as pollinating, insect-friendly species.
“That’s a big part of the brief, to be sustainable,” Reeves says simply. “(Due to the pandemic measures) you can almost smell the ozone now – things have really cleaned up and wildlife is coming back into the garden, so it fits the way people are thinking as well.”
The Big Flower Fight is available on Netflix now.
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