Monty Don: Gardeners’ World host says dog Nigel’s death sparked ‘Diana-type sadness’

Gardener's World pay tribute to Monty's dog Nigel in 2020

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Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don, 65, has spoken out about the outpouring of love and support he received from fans while he was grieving the loss of his pet dog Nigel in 2020. The horticulturalist’s beloved Golden Retriever died nine months ago after he fell ill and suffered from “violent fits all night”.

Monty has now revealed he wasn’t prepared for how many of his fans were equally devastated by Nigel’s death.

The gardener compared the emotional reaction to the news to the “sadness” surrounding Princess Diana’s death in 1997.

Monty said in a new interview: “People for some reason suspended disbelief and wanted him to be this special person. 

“There was real sadness when he died. 

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“It was a sort of Diana-type sadness.”

Nigel earned himself a special place in the hearts of Gardeners’ World viewers, as he often appeared on the BBC programme alongside Monty.

Recalling Nigel’s on-screen debut, Monty admitted: “From day one that he appeared on television, something happened between Nigel and the camera that was just magic.”

The television personality also previously received numerous letters and cards addressed to Nigel from fans at his book signings.


He told this week’s Radio Times: “I’ve had people queue at a book signing – and this is not an exaggeration – for an hour, to give me a letter to give to Nigel. 

“Not to buy a book or have a book signed, just to hand me a card that says, ‘Dear Nigel’.” 

Monty also spoke out on the night before Nigel’s death in an interview from last year.

Monty admitted the tragic moment was a shock for him, as Nigel had never had seizures before.

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The horticultural expert recalled: “It was a lovely day and he’d been outside and at 7 o’clock in the evening we went for a walk, he was fine, and I put him to bed at 10 o’clock.

“Then at one in the morning, my son, because my son and daughter-in-law have been in lockdown with us, woke me and said, ‘Nigel is having fits’. So I stayed with him for the rest of the night and he fitted all night.”

Monty then quizzed the Griefcast podcast host Cariad Lloyd: “I don’t know if you’ve ever been with a person when they’ve had a seizure.” 

“No, not a seizure, no,” the comedian responded. 

Radio Times cover [RADIOTIMES]

Monty replied: “Well, I have, and it’s really shocking, it’s really dramatic.

“It’s such a violent thing and you feel as someone who’s trying to help, I sort of know what to do, but it feels inadequate because it’s so violent and people can break bones and anyway, you have a large dog doing just that all night, again and again and again.”

“And he’d never had seizures before?” Cariad asked. 

Monty revealed: “Never before, so by morning I was thinking, please just die, just die, because this is not good.”

Monty and his family currently own four dogs: Nellie, another golden retriever; a Yorkshire terrier called Patti; and two elderly dachshunds who have not yet appeared on Gardeners’ World due to their reluctance to be on-camera.

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times – out now.

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