In My Own Words with… Netflix's The Big Flower Fight winners: 'Natasia told us we were the future of floristry - Vic just thought we were lunatics!' - Exclusive
Three sets of finalists battled it out to be crowned the winner of Netflix’s gardening competition series The Big Flower Fight, but who came out on top? We chatted to the winners.
In the finale of The Big Flower Fight, three pairs battled it out to be crowned the champions of Netflix’s feel-good floristry competition.
The fairytale-inspired final challenge saw Ralph and Jim, Yan and Henck, and Andrew and Ryan tackle a mammoth Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel or Hansel and Gretel sculpture.
In the end, the risk paid off for Andrew and Ryan (below), who presented a jaw-dropping, albeit somewhat dark and sinister interpretation of Hansel and Gretel’s cottage - with the majority of the flowers actually inside the design.
The London-based pair, who were the least experienced going into the competition, went from underdogs to champions as they were named the winners of The Big Flower Fight in an emotional final episode.
Speaking exclusively to BT.com, the pair reveal the inspiration behind their winning design, what it was like working with hosts Vic Reeves and Natasia Demetriou, and why they were ‘bamboozled’ by head judge Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht’s comments.
The Big Flower Fight winners: In Their Own Words
My reaction when I was told I was going to be a contestant on The Big Flower Fight was...
Ryan: ‘Oh my God, your mother is going to flip out!.’ I think on the whole show, I was the person who knew the least about flowers, so I was like ‘what have I done?’ But also when I got there, I was really excited because I knew I had it in me, and I had a winning partner by my side.
Andrew: ‘What have we gotten ourselves into?!’ I remember specifically turning up on set on the first day and everybody was giving all the Latin names for all the plants in the garden and I was like ‘we are completely out of our depth’.
My reaction when I was told I had won the show was...
Ryan: Oddly not surprised. With my 10 years of working in art and fashion curation, I’ve had to step back and look at people’s work. I had a moment where I was like ‘OK, this is how far we’ve got, Henck and Yan are going to win’. Then when we finished, I looked back at all three of the sculptures and I knew that it was ours [that was going to won].
I knew that what we created could be put anywhere and capture people’s imagination. We just got stuck in, and made it, and made it unusual, we put our twist on it. We thought it was the best whether we won or not.
Andrew: Completely blown away. The whole thing became such a blur by the end. Going from having no experience in that industry whatsoever, to then knowing that we’d won, and because of that having the opportunity to build the [winners] sculpture at Kew, it was complete and utter validation of our journey and how far we’d come on it. It was really incredible, and just very humbling getting feedback from everyone.
The inspiration for our winning final design was…
Ryan: Hansel and Gretel, which has always been a fairytale that’s close to my heart. I remember being a young kid and finding out that fairytales are darker than I thought, and that was always in the back of my mind.
When we saw the sculpture and saw it was the shortest, we knew we had to think outside the box. When we looked at the house, we were just sitting there thinking ‘will we have time to put all these flowers on the outside of the house? Will it look any good?’
There was just a moment where we had to have blind faith, and Andrew was like ‘I don’t know if I can do this if we don’t do it this way’ and I was like ‘I have faith, we just need to give it our all.’
Andrew: Fairytales are really dark, and where I grew up in Lancashire, there there was one of the worst witch trials on Pendle Hill of a lady called Anne Whittle. It just reminded me of being a kid, and going to a local witch museum, and I was completely enthralled by it.I was like ‘I can’t do a nice looking witch house’.
I said to Ryan ‘I’m not happy doing this’ and then we spoke about planting it inside out, having blood red on the inside like a living organism, and Ryan was like ‘let’s go’. Then we just put our fingers in our ears and just got on with it. Once you have a different idea, you’ve got to have complete and utter conviction in it, and we did, and it paid off.
The best piece of advice I was given on the show was...
Ryan: From Andrew himself. He said ‘just get it done’. I was in my head quite a bit, and sometimes I’d be too competitive, or I’d be too emotional or too worried, and he would say ‘just step out of all that and get it done’.
Andrew: It’s not so much advice, but there was this whole thing about just learning on the spot. No-one explicitly gave us advice, but having one eye on everyone else making their work at the start of the competition kind of taught us everything we knew.
My most memorable moment from working with Vic Reeves on the show was…
Ryan: When we were working on our sculptures and trying our hardest, against people who were experts in their field, and it was so refreshing to have Vic come up and ask us what on Earth we were doing - because you knew that he had faith in what we were doing, and cared about the sculptures, but he just thought we were lunatics.
Andrew: When they were introducing us to the judges on the first day, he walked in and I literally just burst out laughing. I’ve watched Reeves and Mortimer since it came out - my dad used to record it, he’s my family’s favourite comedian.
I was like ‘I’m not going to be able to tell my family I’m in the same room as Vic Reeves’. I don’t remember what he said because I was fanboying. It was such a privilege.
My most memorable moment from working with Natasia Demetriou on the show was…
Ryan: After the mirror [design], she walked up to us and grabbed both of us and said ‘my boys, you’re the future of floristry’ and soon as she said that, I just felt really honoured and relieved. We don’t really speak to them that much and have those kind of interpersonal moments, but in that moment she just took stock of how far we’d come so far, and it gave me energy to keep going.
Andrew: She was just hilarious on set. She was really funny all the time, you know her sense of humour, it’s not the most family-friendly, but it was just such light relief on the show. She was really good at taking the stress out of the whole situation.
My most memorable moment from working with Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht on the show was…
Ryan: I kind of have an issue with Kristen. I loved him so much, and because I didn’t have any experience in floristry, I wasn’t aware of how talented or how respected he was in America and around the world… The only issue I have is he would make eye contact with me before every judgment for Best in Bloom, and then announce whoever else won. That was why I was always putting my hands over my face because I was like ‘he’s staring at me, and I don’t know why he’s staring at me!’
Andrew: The first moment from judging, when he came to ask questions about the bee design, and he was just so animated and charismatic. I think after all the hard work and how tired I was, I was blown away [by his comments], I was bamboozled. He really has an open view towards people’s creativity.
Our biggest rivals on the show were…
Andrew: Yan and Henck, of course! Off-camera, on-camera, in the dome, in the nursery, it was just funny ribbing each other all the time. Obviously we all wanted to win, but they opened the gateway for everything. It was just like ‘game on’.
Ryan: Every challenge I walked in going ‘I just want to beat Yan and Henck’. I love them so much, they have such a special place in my heart.
The people I’ll keep in touch with after the show are…
Andrew: Basically everybody! Chanelle lives in Catford so I went and saw her, we went and visited Andi and Helen, I’d love to go to Ireland to see Eoghan and Declan. All the American teams were going to fly over for a party [but they can’t now]. There’s still a WhatsApp group, it’s been alive since last October when filming finished.
Ryan: We really love each other deeply, and it’s so nice because when people say what a nice father Ralph was to Jim, he was a father to all of us. Henck and Yan were the eccentric uncles. It was just lovely to see how everybody has a role in the flower family.
Life after the show for me involves…
Ryan: Looking at what we achieved and opening up the conversation around creativity, and walking out feeling like a champion with Andrew. I really want people to follow their dreams, be underdogs and gamechangers, and champion that for everyone.
Andrew: A gardening job. My work’s a lot to do with symbiosis and the reconnection with humans and nature. I’ve just spent the last few months learning everything I can about gardening and just looking at how we can enrich spaces. Not everyone can afford to build these huge celebratory sculptures, but we can take some of those pollinated plants and put them in our flower beds, and increase awareness about that.
My advice for anyone wanting to take part in series 2 of The Big Flower Fight is...
Ryan: Be confident in yourself, be as creative as possible, and just go on there and make everyone proud.
Andrew: Wear gloves all the time! It was like you’d wrestled five cats by the end of every day [with all] the chicken wire.
If I could take part in another TV show, it would be...
Ryan: I’d love to be a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, there’s no question about that, it would be a dream come true. Even in the show, I have a lot of Drag Race references, and it’s because I’ve been watching the show for 12 years and think all the UK Queens are fantastic.
Andrew: If Vic could just offer me a seat in the audience for more Reeves & Mortimer, that would be absolutely splendid!
The Big Flower Fight is streaming now on Netflix.