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Alan Titchmarsh reacts after being censored by North Korean TV: ‘It’s given me a bit of street cred’

North Korean TV has bizarrely censored BBC presenter Alan Titchmarsh’s blue jeans during an episode of his gardening show.

The British broadcaster’s trousers were blurred out in an episode of Alan Titchmarsh’s Garden Secrets after it aired on the Korean Central Television on Monday.

The 74-year-old, who became a huge hit with North Korean audiences after the series was first shown on state TV in 2022, has previously expressed his delight that the show was able to “transcend barriers”.

BBC presenter Alan Titchmarsh’s jeans were blurred out when broadcast in North Korea (BBC, KCTV)
BBC presenter Alan Titchmarsh’s jeans were blurred out when broadcast in North Korea (BBC, KCTV)

Now, he said the development had given him a bit of “street cred”, putting him in the same ranks as Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Rod Stewart.

“It’s taken me to reach the age of 74 to be regarded in the same sort of breath as Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart. You know wearing trousers that are generally considered by those of us of a sensitive disposition to be rather too tight”, he told the BBC.

He added: “I’ve never seen myself as a dangerous subversive imperialist I’m generally regarded as rather cosy and pretty harmless so actually it’s given me a bit of street cred really hasn’t it.”

North Korea has outlawed jeans since the early 1990s because they are viewed as a symbol of US or Western imperialism - despite the country’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un going to school in Switzerland and enjoying basketball and videogames.

In 2013, the authorities issued a list of 28 approved hairstyles for all citizens, 14 for each sex. Men were banned from growing their hair longer than 5cm.

Older men were allowed an extra 2cm. Women had more freedom, but again there was a distinction between unmarried and married women — married women had to be trimmer.

As to fashion, the question did not arise, with most residents limited to the dull formality of grey and blue suits available in state-run shops, or traditional Korean “hanbok” for special occasions, such as parades for the birthday of the leader.

It isn’t clear how North Korea got hold of the TV show but the country has a history of illegally pirating neutral content like football matches and other TV shows.