Weather or Not 

1 September 2001

We have all got to know our fair share of weather good, bad and mostly indifferent, if it’s summer in the UK.

However, on television, we can’t but fail to help know, or think we get to know, that band of people who deliver the weather from their studio into our homes.

Weather on ABC

I have taken some time to reflect on different “weatherpersons” I can recall over the years.

My earliest recollection is of being told the weather, by a kindly gentleman, who came over as your uncle next door might do.

His name was Laurie West and he daily reported weather on Monday to Fridays for Associated-Rediffusion, London’s first ITV contractor. By the time we had television in our house I was about six, so it would be about 1960 here.

Laurie West with the weather

Laurie presented news of forthcoming rain, cloud, sun, wind, fog, snow or sleet – using weather boards detailing regional and UK maps, upon which he would stick various models – arrows, some clouds, the sun, and rain or even snow if that was the case.

It looked to me as if the models were felt backed, as they normally stuck well, but occasionally would slip, slide or drop off the weatherboard entirely.

Laurie was known for ending his reports with some anecdote or other, I remember him leaving the weather role, and later coming back by popular demand.

One weatherperson who was not seen again was one Barbara Edwards. She was I think the first women weather forecaster on BBC Television, and her heyday was in the early 1970s.

Rediffusion weather

Like all weather presenters at the BBC, Barbara was a meteorologist and a civil servant, seconded to the BBC. Barbara often moaned in public thather allowance for new clothes to present to weather was too slender.

It was not only her dress budget that was lean, as her days weather presenting seemed numbered, and she disappeared from our screens.

Back at ITV and the London contractor from 1968, Thames Television, beefed up its regional news and weather in the mid-1970s, and along came a very cheerful Francis Wilson.

A good looker, Francis was very popular with the ladies and he certainly made his mark, as later he was taken on to present the BBC Breakfast Time’s weather news and eventually moved on to Sky News where he still presents the weather.

By the time Wilson did the weather, felt-backed cutout clouds were consigned to history, but not before Michael Hunt and his team at Anglia had their fun.

The Anglia weather service was first rate and they would post detailed information outside the Anglia House complex in Norwich. They presented the weather on stiff boards using a slide, which moved across to reveal another map. Michael once sent me two of his board charts used in Anglia weather, which I later gave to a school geography department

One or two mishaps at Anglia weather on the slides were so humorous, they made it into one of the first “It’ll be alright On the Night” programmes with Dennis Norden, featuring TV bloomers. I am sure that Wincey Willis had one or two bloomers, but more of the panto leggings variety.

Wincey was one of the early weather presenters on TV-am, the first commercial breakfast station in the UK. I’m not sure that Wincey was a meteorologist – that wasn’t quite TV-am’s style, but she later managed to branch out to present a series on pets for ITV and a quiz with Kenneth Kendall for Channel Four, “Treasure Hunt”.

Nowadays we are knee-deep in a plethora of multi-channels on analogue, digital and cable. The Weather Channel came and went, say no more about that, and regional TV weather presenters are now a dying species – Granada’s weather noticeably being presented out-of-vision.

So in future, when the young people of today are my age and start writing about such things, there will be no Laurie, Barbara, Francis, or Wincey.

They will have a virtual presenter with no personality, and no more mishaps to amuse us. Some will say “ah, that’s progress”, but I know what I would personally prefer.

You Say

2 responses to this article

john dover 12 August 2013 at 5:53 am

I was living in Beeston Regis on the North Norfolk coast in November 1966 when Michael Hunt, during his early evening weather slot, warned us of an imminent severe NW storm. I can hear his words to this day advising people on the coast to take the greatest care. The concern in his voice was genuine. As a teenager I went down to the sea front at high tide one hour later and the spray was coming over the top of the cliffs. Happy innocent days.

Joanne Gray 19 October 2015 at 11:03 am

Wincey Willis was the Tyne Tees weather girl prior to TVAM. She was a local lass (from Teesside) and I’m not sure if she had meteorological qualifications, but her great personality ensured her popularity on both regional and national tv.

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