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THE REAL REAL ME: CHARLIE DIMMOCK; I do wear a bra after work but not knickers. Definitely not ..I can't abide tight knickers.

TO MALE viewers, gardening expert Charlie Dimmock is a joy. She specialises in water gardens, but it is not her horti-cultural skills that keep them transfixed by Ground Force, currently being repeated on BBC1 on Sundays at 8pm. It may be her winsome, wholesome, milkmaid image. But it is mostly because Charlie does not wear a bra as she shovels, bends and heaves in her own very physical way.

She is currently filming the fourth and fifth series of Ground Force, plus her new series, Charlie's Gardening Army, to be screened in October. She lives with boyfriend John Mushet in a cottage in the garden centre she manages in Romsey, Hants, which is where we met. Rugged, earthy and very much her own person, she seems untouched by the glamour in her new world.

I'M A bit bored with people concentrating on my bosoms. It doesn't upset me, I don't got cross about It. Just bored.

Because I'm not that big-busted. At all. I'm broader across my shoulders, that's what makes me look big. My bust size is actually quite small in comparison to most people's. Oh yeah.

I'm only a 36B. And that's all shoulder, rather than bust. They're not that big, not that full. If they ARE firm, it's the physical work. Although exercise can't improve your bust, it's the muscle underneath.

As for not wearing a bra, I do wear one in the evening, if I'm going out somewhere and wearing a dress, and I want a cleavage. I don't wear a bra when I'm working because of the movement in the physical work I do. It's so uncomfortable. And sports bras are even worse. Have you ever worn a sports bra? So tight! It's physically swinging my body, and doing like THAT, it just makes a bra ride right up.

I have a few sets of underwear which you wear just to get undressed in, sort of pretty. But other than that, I don't wear much underwear at all. I only wear underwear if I have to get undressed in front of someone.

So, no bra. And no knickers either. No. Not knickers. But if I do wear knickers, they're sort of Marks and Sparks 12 to 14s. Because I cannot abide tight knickers. Or knickers that leave a line. Drives me round the twist, that does. And I find thongs quite uncomfortable as well. So I'm better without knickers altogether.

My body shape has changed over the last couple of years. Yeah. It's not as muscly as it was, although I'm doing the same work. Perhaps that's just because I'm getting older! Probably is. I'm 33. I'm bigger around my stomach than I ever used to be. I mean, there's no way I'd wear crop tops.

In fact, at the moment I'm heavier than I should be, for this time of year. Yeah. I can just tell by looking at myself in the mirror. And my legs are really fat! It niggles me. I end up just wearing jeans and T- shirt all the time.

My weight fluctuates greatly from summer to winter. It varies between just under 10 stone and just over 12. That's the difference between being active and not. So I have two wardrobes. A 30ins waist, and a 32ins waist in jeans.

I'm 5ft 6ins. I've always wanted to be taller, I feel a right shortarse next to my family. And I weigh 11 stone at the moment. I'd like to be about 101/2, that feels right. It's not a lot, is it? Half a stone. But I've still got to get there! I keep saying I will, and never get round to it. I know I should cut back on my drinking and do a bit more exercising.

I've never really got to grips with my weight, I don't feel like I'm in control, it just does its own thing. Like, this time last year, it wasn't too bad. But then, I was only away for two or three days, every other week. Now I'm probably here one or two days every week. That's all.

I've done some diets in the past, but filming's disastrous. Because we work on-site for the two days for Ground Force, we have all snack food there. There's always crisps and chocolate biscuits around. And it's so easy to pick.

I've always had weight problems. Oh yeah. Especially as a child, up until I was 15 or 16. What with having red hair and being pasty and round, I used to be picked on at school. Gym was disastrous, and dance, I was really bad at that. But I probably lost a bit of the sort of podginess once I started playing competitive team sports. I really enjoyed hockey.

And then it was really just starting working here at the garden centre when I was 15 - that helped. I was a Saturday girl. I applied to shops all over the place, got no replies. My mum and dad put a pond in, we came down here, so I asked. It was chance. It meant I could work for the weekend, and after two weekends have enough money for a pair of jeans. And then I went to horticultural college. For my 21st birthday, when I finished, my dad got me a ticket to New Zealand and I went out there for just over a year. When I came back I started work full-time here. And I'm still technically the manager.

Getting on Ground Force, that was just luck. Total luck. Five years after doing a little bit on a local TV programme, you don't expect someone to phone you up and offer you a job like that. That was three years ago.

I have great fun doing it. We get a bit crabby with each other, but then that's the tension. And I do get lots of nice letters, a lot from older men. And when I say older, I mean 90! Saying: "Oh, if I was younger..." And: "You seem like a nice wholesome girl." Which is very sweet.

It's such a surprise that it's all taken off. I had the most ridiculous thing happen two weeks ago in Wales. It was a joke! I had to be run out of the garden into a waiting car, because there were so many people, children, waiting for autographs.

The crew said: "We're not going to get you out if they see you." So I had to swap clothes with one of the girls and go out the back way. As we got out, all the children realised, and they were running round. It was head down and go! I find it strange that children like me. And it's a joke when everyone goes: "Oh, you're a sex symbol." That's what's so silly about it. I was never sexy before I went on TV. How can I suddenly become this incredible sex symbol?

I don't like myself on TV, I giggle too much on the programme, giggly- girly. But then I do laugh quite a lot. And the TV does put weight on you, so you think: "God, I look HUGE!" When I meet people now, they go: "Ooh, you're much smaller!" I take it as complimentary.

I DON'T know if my boyfriend is proud of me on TV, he's not really said much. We've only just got the TV. We've never had one up until three weeks ago. It's such a time-waster, there's just trash on.

I met John in New Zealand on an arranged date, he's a winemaker by trade, and it just sort of grew. After I came back here, he came over. I was so nervous going to pick him up at the airport, really petrified. I was so busy talking, driving him back home, I got lost and ended up in Guildford.

He started up his own business, and we've been together 12 years. He's very laid-back and relaxed. He's about my height, blue eyes, dark hair and very, very skinny when I first met him. When he took his clothes off it was like: "Put them back on!"

We're both fairly easy-going, so we potter along. He delivers all along the South Coast down to Cornwall, but he's normally here at weekends. Marriage? It seems a lot of money to have a big party and a nice dress. You wouldn't be wearing it that often, would you? And babies, I mean I can't look at them and go: "Ooh, aren't they lovely?" Nuh.

We just get along. Mates more than anything. Although he doesn't like all the time I'm away, and says I'm working too much. But then, if the opportunity's there, you're stupid not to take it. Since January, I've worked somewhere every day.

I'm not sure about the future, it's getting totally out of hand. It's difficult. I don't know whether to jump and take everything that's offered. Say: "Right, that's it, I'm gonna be a TV presenter."

TV's not very reliable, and I've always been someone that's very stable, had a wage, always saved, put money aside. And not spent it frivolously. I'm just putting it away.

If you'd said to me three years ago: "Oh, girl, you're going to be on TV", I'd have thought you were mad. I'm not lucky like my gran, winning raffles. But I have been lucky. Things have all just fallen into place.

But as to the future, I never plan ahead. I can't see past the next garden. And if it all did end tomorrow, well, I've really enjoyed it. I'd think: "That was a good time, let's get on with some work now."

You see, I don't consider it work, which is probably not the right attitude. The trouble is, it just happened so quickly, I presume it could all change.

So in the meantime, I'm making the most of it. And I'm just having fun.


CHEESE, especially blue cheese. I could quite happily eat a big wedge, no qualms. I love it. And I can sit and eat spoonfuls of Marmite. And take a teaspoon and do the same with peanut butter. I sometimes got cravings for chocolate some evenings, but we never have it in the house and I can't be bothered to go up to the petrol station for it.


I DESPERATELY need what my agent calls "smart casual". I either have jeans or evening dresses. I've got eight or nine pairs of Levi 501s, all covered in paint. I wish I'd bought them all in the States, they're so much cheaper. And tights and me don't mix, I tear pair after pair. I now wear gloves to put them on. Failing that, I use socks over the hands.


I HATE my nose, it's got a big bump on it. I've had it broken three times. Once, I fell over. Twice, it was play-fighting with boyfriends. Like "I'm going to tickle you", and struggling, smack! Two black eyes. And then in a swimming pool, playing chase with another guy. He kicked me in the face by mistake.


WHITE wine and Bloody Marys. I go through cravings. And our local restaurant does a special gin and tonic. It's a double gin with a measure of Cointreau, and a measure of elderflower cordial, with loads of orange and lemon and tonic and ice, in one of those balloon glasses. I don't know what it's called, but after two, you're going nowhere.


IT doesn't exist. I don't take vitamins, and I'm not very good on vegetables. A bit naughty. My worst habit is that I don't eat breakfast or lunch. I'd just fall asleep half an hour after. At dinner, I have to keep on drinking to wake me up. I haven't been to a gym since last winter. I swim occasionally, but I'd never sunbathe topless. I'm too self-conscious.


I USED to get called Duracell at school - copper-coloured top. It goes much blonder in summer. I hadn't had it cut for nine years when I first started filming - I hate hairdressers. The BBC sent me to John Frieda's. The guy tidied it up, made it less frizzy. The next time was last year, and they took too much off. I hated it. So I won't be going again.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Myskow, Nina
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 30, 1999
Previous Article:LAST NIGHT'S VIEW.

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