HAMPSHIRE presenter Alan Titchmarsh wants to be cast in a new TV role - as the gardener in Downton Abbey the movie.

The former host of Gardeners' World and the Chelsea Flower Show is about to be seen on-screen "peeling back history" in a series on the National Trust.

However, he wants to appear in the big-screen outing of the hit period drama.

"If they bring this film of Downton Abbey out I'm going to have a go at (creator) Julian Fellowes. I've never seen anybody do anything in the garden.

"I'd like to play the gardener. I'd have a big beard and wheel a wheelbarrow in the background," he said.

"It wouldn't take off but I'd love to do that. I'd just like to be a part of it because I so enjoyed that series!"

In his new, six-part series, Secrets Of The National Trust, Alan, 67, explores stunning estates and historic houses.

As well as conservation work taking place across the UK, gardens, landscapes and coastlines also feature in the Channel 5 show.

Titchmarsh warned that the green belt had to be protected.

"When the thin edge of the wedge comes and public parks are done away with... it's a false economy.

"They're vitally important to our wellbeing," he said.

"You build on the (green belt) at your peril. We have to have houses for people but there are lots of sites we can build on," he said.

When the mild-mannered star promoted another show, Love Your Garden, he caused an upset on BBC Breakfast.

Presenter Louise Minchin apologised after Alan, who is the Chancellor of Winchester University, used the gardening term "bastard trenching", referring to the practice of double digging.

But the star criticised the apology, saying it was a "knee-jerk reaction" and the breakfast show "shot themselves in the foot".

"They got lots of letters from people explaining how the word is used in other areas.

"I don't think Shakespeare has yet been doctored. Edmund the Bastard is still Edmund the Bastard in King Lear, not Edmund the Illegitimate," he said.

"It's not as if I was using it as a derogatory term towards somebody. It was silly.

"I didn't know what they were talking about at first. She (Minchin) turned to the camera and said 'we apologise for the bad language'.

"I thought 'whoops, what did they say?' Oh gosh, she's on about me. It was a shock."

Alan, who is also a deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire will not be joining Strictly Come Dancing, having been asked to take part, "because my wife says my gardeners' knees won't take the lifts", or I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! because no-one would want to see "me sitting down, grumbling".

However, despite "complaining like everybody else" about life, the former Ground Force star said he believed in getting things done - including Brexit.

"I did vote Remain but I have a lot of sympathy with Brexit.

"The mistake that Europe made was trying to homogenise everybody and make everybody alike on everything," he said.

"That's what eventually got the backs up of the British people...

"You can't suddenly homogenise 27 countries in the space of half a century when they've been ploughing their own furrow for thousands of years."

He said: "I've got to the stage now where we have to crack on and get on with it and make it work," adding: "As long as it doesn't make us insular and xenophobic, we can plough our own furrow."

  • Secrets Of The National Trust With Alan Titchmarsh airs on Tuesdays at 9pm on Channel 5, from February 7.