GARDENING guru Alan Titchmarsh has landed the title of High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight, despite having hardly any roots there.

The 58-year-old, born and brought up in Yorkshire, only boasts a holiday home in West Cowes while his main residence is a £1.5m 18th century farmhouse near Alton, 40 miles away.

Today will be Titchmarsh's first day in the unpaid post where he will be expected to support and encourage voluntary and statutory organisations in all aspects of law and order.

Historically, being High Sheriff involved collecting taxes and "maintaining loyalty to the crown" but in modern times this has evolved into a largely ceremonial role.

Bemused councillors struggled to understand how the television gardener and chat show host had managed to turf out home-grown competitors for the title.

Patrick Joyce, councillor for Brading and St Helens, said: "There are many people on the Isle of Wight who could have been picked. There are many people who have done a very great service on the island, and actually live here. I would have thought it would be better to choose one of those.

"Choosing Alan Titchmarsh was not the most sensible thing to do. It just seems a bit strange that someone who has a holiday home has been picked as the High Sheriff. Generally speaking, they pick prominent people from the Isle of Wight"

Barbara Foster, councillor for Carisbrooke West, said: "He is not the only one with a holiday home here and, with his broadcasting career, I'd be surprised if he gets to use it much.

"I know Alan well. He is a very nice person. I have met him on a number of occasions. I don't know who is behind this decision to appoint him but I don't think they should have given it to him. I find it odd. I feel concern for him because when you are in a position like that you have to be on call all the time. I don't know how Alan's going to cope with it, given his home is on the mainland. He will have dozens of engagements."

The previous High Sheriff, Lieutenant Colonel David Langford, grew up locally at Freshwater before becoming a career officer in the Royal Artillery.

He was more than happy, to pass the baton into Titchmarsh's famous green fingers.

He said: "He will do it differently and with his own charm as he always does. He is high profile and will get places that I could not possibly reach."

Mr Titchmarsh was unavailable for comment.

HIGH SHERIFF: Alan Titchmarsh.