11. Tender stuff, porcelain leaving port COAL (Coal(port)) A very misleading surface, not to do with tenderness, but with the tender that follows a steam loco. The Coalport porcelain brand still survives from the 18c., but is less familiar these days.
12. We are accepting rise a pound short as formerly (but no more) WHILERE (hil(l) in we’re) A rather confusing definition in a rather confusing surface leading to an unusual adverb. The idea is that the solution formerly meant ‘formerly’.
15. Mountain region, ergo on for tramping about OROGEN (anag.) Solvers who, like Dr Watson, have visited Oregon and know it to be mountainous, at least in part, may also be have been kicking themselves as they reached for the correcting fluid.
21. A VIP Positano diverted, having little energy A TOP NOISE (anag. + e; see noise in C.) Solvers who, like Dr Watson, have visited Positano and know it to be beautifully situated on the Amalfi coast, may also have been distracted by their reverie, but probably not for long.
26. It’s grand in W. African state, enjoying mild climate BENIGN (g in Benin) Solvers who, unlike Dr Watson, have visited Benin, may be able to vouch or otherwise for this description of its climate, and will not have wasted any time trying to fit Ghana into the solution.
32. Precocious chit married first male to appear MADAM (m. + Adam) A great surface that might have benefited from a more contemporary definition.
4. Once having skill, injecting bit of cladode into old graft SCIENT (c in sient) You don’t need to know that a cladode is a leaf-like stem to solve the clue, but it helps to understand the surface from an arboricultural point of view. ‘Sient’ is an old spelling of ‘scion’.
6. Letter from Scotland penned in Ayrshire region HIRER (hidden) The alternative meanings of ‘letter’ and ‘penned’ will be familiar enough to most solvers, but are very neatly deployed together here.
23. Such as George one’s found digging in allotments? PILOTS (I in plots) It’s the time of year when thoughts turn to spadework, and some might wish that they had a device to take on the workload, as aviators do with George the autopilot.
25. Lord and Lady opening central part of fair ADONAI (Doña in (f)ai(r)) The key here is understanding the role of ‘opening’, more commonly used to indicate an initial letter.
27. Co-star of Dana A. and others seen in fur GENET (Gene T.) Solvers will need long memories and/or a qualification in film-buffery to recall that Dana A. is (actor) Dana Andrews, who co-starred with (actress) Gene Tierney in Where the Sidewalk Ends in 1950, and nothing to do with Eurovision (though that would also need a long memory).
Across: 1. UPCAST-SHAFT (anag.); 13. HORNIE (‘horny’); 14. CRURAL (C + rural); 17. COLON (col on; colon4); 18. PRENTS (s to end in sprent); 19. STYLELESS (anag. in sess; see cess); 30. TYLOTE (lot in tye); 31. OOLONG (hidden); 32. IRON-ON (I + n in roon); 33. CRATERS (anag incl. r(o)s(é)); 34. KART (tra(c)k, rev.); 35. SYSTEMATIST (anag.).
Down: 2. POOR-OOT (poor + too, rev.); 3. CAROLI (car + anag.); 5. TWENTY-ONE (2 mngs.); 7. ALUDEL (anag. in all); 8. FERINE (in in anag.); 9. TRAD ((S)trad); 10. DÉLASSEMENT (lass + e, all in dement); 11. CHOCK-A-BLOCK; 16. SPLITTISM (anag.); 20. STATORS (St a(C)tors); 22. ON A LAY (nala in (b)oy; see lay in C.); 24. SMYRNA (comp. anag. & lit.); 29. HORS (hidden).