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How would you make the weather forecast easier to remember?

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Eddie Mair | 17:13 UK time, Monday, 14 September 2009

sunny1.JPGIn the programme tonight we hear from Paul Simons at The Times. His article is here.

What would you suggest to improve how we remember the radio forecast?


  • 1. At 5:39pm on 14 Sep 2009, Hawk wrote:

    I wish I knew eddie, I wish I knew. Everytime, without fail, my mind drifts off to other less important things as soon as they start to speak. I feel sorry for the poor forcasters who have worked so hard to give me their forcast, only for me to completely zone out whilst they speak. Even the lovely dulcet tones of the lovely Laura Tobin can't keep me zoned in. Please accept my apologies peeps.

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  • 2. At 5:40pm on 14 Sep 2009, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    "Run for the hills! Flood! Earthquake! Volcanoes! Rains of frog! Plagues of locust! Aaaarrrgghh!"

    That would be memorable, and perhaps only slightly more pessimistic than the forecasts seem to be these days.

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  • 3. At 5:50pm on 14 Sep 2009, Anne P. wrote:

    The place first - yes, yes, yes. Then we know when to listen .

    And in a standardised order like the Shipping Forecast. If I really want to know what's happening to the weather that's the one I listen to. I can mentally track the weather system across the shipping areas and work out how it will affect the Midlands, or wherever I happen to be at the time.

    What I do not want is to be told that it's been a scorcher in London if I am suffering pouring rain somewhere else.

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  • 4. At 5:50pm on 14 Sep 2009, megamezzo wrote:

    Just give us the gen in the same format as the shipping forecast - PLEASE!
    Location first, facts next and NO MORE!

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  • 5. At 5:50pm on 14 Sep 2009, nbman6 wrote:

    you already have a perfect existing way of delivering the weather forcast. Think shipping forecast format

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  • 6. At 5:51pm on 14 Sep 2009, charlotte2798 wrote:

    To make the weather forecast easier to remember - play a small jingle of say 3 or 4 notes before the weather for each area of the country is given out. Perhaps it could be birdsong - we'd get to learn them and be alerted to the day's forecast for our area. And it would sound lovely.

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  • 7. At 5:51pm on 14 Sep 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Definitely keep it brief - punchlines, as your listener said, and naming each region before giving the forecast for it.

    On the television, this is definitely less of an issue as the weather map and the forecaster's gestures help to keep the viewer focussed and alert for when their area comes into play. Incidentally, is it my imagination or have the TV forecasters become a bit more systematic in the way they work around the country while forecasting?

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  • 8. At 5:52pm on 14 Sep 2009, RxKaren wrote:

    Mozart or Baroque music are supposed to increase learning and memory by stimulating both sides of the brain. My friend (a primary school teacher) used to use this technique years ago.

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  • 9. At 5:53pm on 14 Sep 2009, elderhand wrote:

    I agree with Paul Simons - keep the basic forecast short and to the point.
    What I want to know (and frequently lose track of in the detail) is: Do I need a coat today? Do I need an umbrella or snow shoes tomorrow?
    At 5 or 6pm I rarely need to know the weather for tommorrow, or can easily find that elsewhere.

    When regions differ start with the area and get quickly to the point.
    In the Sound of Newcastle today fine and sunny, in the North, windy, and in Northern Ireland wet and windy.

    So if you need a blow by shine account then have something like the shipping forecast at a dedicated time and standard format. We could call that the weather forecast ... and make the little ones a weather bulletin.

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  • 10. At 5:53pm on 14 Sep 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    I wonder. Is the attempt to make weather less soporific (and the Shipping Forecast often helps me to drift off if I'm awake later than I meant to be)

    ...the reason for the odd intonation?

    Wet AND windy

    In London AND the south... EAST, rain

    In the Highlands. AND Western Isles, it WILL be. Stormy

    etc, etc

    Neither soporific not helpful.

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  • 11. At 5:54pm on 14 Sep 2009, Richard_C wrote:

    Living near the coast, I like the Shipping Forecast. The first few sentences describe clearly where the Lows and Highs are, and then it's a short wait until it describes rain and wind in nearby sea areas. How about reading the land forecast in a similar style?

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  • 12. At 5:55pm on 14 Sep 2009, annaelise89 wrote:

    I was going to say that! Its the obvious answer, make it more like the shipping forecast - which is so incredibly clear and dear to us all. Although I have no idea what the shipping areas mean or what the jargon means, I do like to listen to it anyway.

    So it would be something like:

    This is the weather forecast for the UK for Tuesday 15th September:

    London and the southeast, warmish, no coats required, cloudy later.
    Northwest, windy, take a coat, early showers, clearing later.

    That sort of thing.

    That would be marvellous.


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  • 13. At 5:55pm on 14 Sep 2009, gimmerlamb wrote:

    Yes do improve the way you present the weather. First of all give locations, you can use counties (and please go back to the Furness District of Lancashire), you can mention the Pennines or the Wash or Peninsulas...... and then tell us quite plainly that it will be cold / hot , bright / dull, wet/dry, mild / frosty. And that is all we need to know. Plain and simple.
    And then... you can start to give the weather announcers elocution lessons so that they do not emphasise unimportant words like "the" ... most irritiating.

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  • 14. At 5:55pm on 14 Sep 2009, Hawk wrote:

    Yes, like your listener said, keep it brief i.e.
    The east - wet & windy 11oC,
    Scotland - strong gales 6oC,
    Everywhere else - cloudy 6-11oC.

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  • 15. At 5:57pm on 14 Sep 2009, cestla wrote:

    Yes! Area first before forecast. Where is central southern England, south east or southwest?

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  • 16. At 5:58pm on 14 Sep 2009, JamesHarte wrote:

    You already have the answer to how to read out a weather forecast - the shipping forecast, which gives a very brief national weather system summary and then sets out the forecast with the location first and the weather second in a regular sequence. I have listened to it thousands of times over 30 years of sailing in British waters and, once heard, find it very easy to remember. It may be boring but it works.

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  • 17. At 5:59pm on 14 Sep 2009, donati1000 wrote:

    Ref the weather forecast, I always wonder why they tell us what the weather has been like today? If it is our region we know, as we were there, and if not, so what? Why not stick to stating the region first and then giving us the forecast, not the history. Also, if yesterday they forecast rain and today it rained, why do they say the weather was "disapointing"? If that is what you were expecting you won't have been disapointed. Possibly, if you were a farmaer or gardener and expecting rain and it was then sunny, you would have been disapointed.

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  • 18. At 5:59pm on 14 Sep 2009, Richard from Croydon wrote:

    The BBC already has a good format for the weather forcast - the shipping forecast. Following the comments in the programme:

    1) Don't give chatty narrative, give the weather - location first. eg "London and South East England. 19 degrees, light wind, cloudy, possibly rain later. South and Southwest England....etc". Always use the same order eg temperature, wind, sun/cloud, precipitation.

    2) Always go through the areas of the country in the same order, just like the shipping forecasst.

    3) If people remember what's first, then make the most populated region of the country first. London/South East, I assume.

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  • 19. At 6:01pm on 14 Sep 2009, UncleDance wrote:

    Do it like the Shipping Forecast.

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  • 20. At 6:03pm on 14 Sep 2009, bbone wrote:

    Memorable weather reports state the region first, followed by the forecast for that particular part of the country. This makes it easy to recall what what said, as well as having the benefit of knowing where 'your' area comes, in the detailed forecast. It is practiced in several countries in which I have lived, like South Africa and Norway.

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  • 21. At 6:03pm on 14 Sep 2009, gimmerlamb wrote:

    Just listened to Susan with a more critical ear as she gave the weather forecast. Yes, too much preamble, she did mention some places quite specifically which helped, but some words were not appropriate "Significant totals" ? ugh ? did she mean heavy rain ?, and she fell into the weather forecasters trap of accenting the wrong words, I listened carefully and she said "more cloud moving IN.." " More cloud THAN today". This is wrong, in both phrases the important word is CLOUD and the emphasis should be on the MORE.

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  • 22. At 6:04pm on 14 Sep 2009, gwelsby wrote:

    I live in Manchester. My ideal radio weather report would go:
    In Scotland blah, blah, blah, Northern Ireland blah, blah, blah, the Northwest BANG! it will be dry with sunny periods and blah, blah, blah....
    I suppose it wouldn't help the rest of the country though.
    Gerald Welsby.

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  • 23. At 6:06pm on 14 Sep 2009, normanmugabe wrote:

    Get Charlotte to read it - it'd be a giggle.

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  • 24. At 6:06pm on 14 Sep 2009, jillfc wrote:

    Like others, I reckon it should be much more like the shipping forecast, so you know what information you're going to get and when the area you're interested in is going to be mentioned. Years ago, the forecasts used to take a fairly systematic approach; now they seem to focus the 'most interesting' (sez who?) aspects.

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  • 25. At 6:06pm on 14 Sep 2009, jexx2f wrote:

    1/ Remove all chatty stuff that is not giving real information.
    2/ Use a limited and precise vocabulary.
    3/ In fact make the domestic weather forecasts more like the shipping forecast.

    Re the Shipping Forecast: As a limited vocabulary is used for the shipping forecast why not automate it using a carefully chosen pronunciation and thus maximise intelligibility.

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  • 26. At 6:07pm on 14 Sep 2009, Poverty wrote:

    In the very old days, the forcasts were more like the shipping forecasts. The country was broken down into known areas and you knew beforehand which area to wait for as they were given in the same order. Much more organised than the present mish-mash of information.

    Let's have it like that again - it's information we are after, not a friendly(?) story.

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  • 27. At 6:07pm on 14 Sep 2009, Briantist wrote:

    How about using the correct local accent for each part of the forecast?

    Not sure if the Met Office can afford a John Culshaw each day...

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  • 28. At 6:08pm on 14 Sep 2009, morseman wrote:

    Definitely make it less 'chatty', which tends to give less focus to the information that is being delivered, and have a more structured format.

    I would guess that some 'focus group' somewhere suggested that the forecast was too rigid and the result was this matey "Well, it's been a lovely day in London, but not so nice in Manchester..." Rather than giving the information in a concise and easily digested format.

    I have needed to take down the forecast in preparation for a hike or sea canoeing trip in the past, and the Shipping Forecast is ideal for this, but the general forecast is all but useless in giving the details that you need to focus upon.

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  • 29. At 6:10pm on 14 Sep 2009, terracottadog wrote:

    Make it shorter and more structured. And get rid of the two regular forecasters (you know who you are) who gabble.

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  • 30. At 6:11pm on 14 Sep 2009, MonkDewaliDeHonk wrote:

    I think that keeping it short is a very popular approach, but then you miss the long-term detail of a forecast that is often useful.

    If I had a lot of information about the main areas of the UK and I had to tell it to an audience that included people from all over the UK then I would tell them at the beginning the order I was going to go detail each region.

    e.g. 'And now the U.K. weather, going clockwise around the coast of Britain, starting at North Yorkshire.'

    This would allow people to prepare themselves to listen when their region approaches in the list of counties.

    The weather report could be as detailed as it normally is but the listener would be able to 'tune-out' when it is a report about a region in which they have no interest and 'tune-in' just before their region is mentioned.

    Then they would be ready to listen to a detailed forecast moments before it is read out, and so more likely to remember it.

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  • 31. At 6:11pm on 14 Sep 2009, JelMist wrote:

    Those of us of a certain age will remember how Radio 4 handled things before James Boyle's controllership.

    PM would end at ten to six on long wave for the shipping forecast, and at five to six on FM. The bulletin would last for three or four minutes, giving the forecaster enough time to tell each region what to expect. In the mornings also, during the Today programme, the weather would run for a similar length of time. (In the past couple of months, I have heard it squeezed, disgracefully, to little more than half a minute.)

    My suggestion is nothing more radical than to give the forecaster enough time to do his job. This is precisely what happened before Mr Boyle changed the schedules, and it seemed to work pretty well.

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  • 32. At 6:11pm on 14 Sep 2009, LittleCavalier wrote:

    As though retaining weather information isn't difficult enough, I believe it was ...a'Penny Tranter who started the ...a'prefixing of certain words with a tiny pause and this completely irritating ...a'sound. That must have been ...a'fifteen years ago. Now all ...a'forecasters seem to do it.

    Stop it!

    And tell the boy who thinks Swansea and Cardiff are to be found somewhere called "Wowz" to get advice on his pronouncification.

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  • 33. At 6:12pm on 14 Sep 2009, MsSetz wrote:

    Go through the regions either North to South or South to North, East to West or West to East etc, depending on the movement of the weather.
    Keep it clear, concise: use active language, more verbs than adjectives.
    Use a bulletpoint principle in scripting the times and regions, types of weather and so on, to avoid the kind of narrative that works on television, i.e., with a picture to lock in the information. A certain snappiness, perhaps.
    Use forecasters with musical speech patterns, something different to the sound of newscast scripts, unique to the slot.

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  • 34. At 6:14pm on 14 Sep 2009, KenBuckingham wrote:

    A few things might it easier for us follow the weather forecast, namely:
    If ambiguous terms were avoided (occasionally phrases like 'and in the North' are used when it isn't entirely clear if it's the North of the UK or the North of a region).
    The recent moves to standardise the geographical sequence is helpful and should be maintained.
    Avoid using phrases like, 'The situation in Wales will be similar to that prevailing in the North-West.' We hadn't bothered listening to the statement about the North-West as we didn't think it was going to apply to us.
    More generally if the presenters were professional communicators not professional meteorologists it might help.

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  • 35. At 6:14pm on 14 Sep 2009, hafodia wrote:

    The answer as several people implied is STRUCTURE. Say the place affected before the weather but the key issue is always to use the same places, and ALWAYS in the same order. Then we know when to listen.

    By the way, isn't the weatherforecast whole heaps more hurried than it used to be? I'm sure thirty years ago they had three minutes or so instead of today's garbled 90 seconds.

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  • 36. At 6:15pm on 14 Sep 2009, PrinceEugene wrote:

    I think the problem is that the weather forecasters are overqualified. They have clearly spent years studying meteorology, are passionate about their subject and understandably wish to share that passion with the viewers. Sadly for them, most viewers aren't interested in the science of weather - they just want to know if it is going to rain or not.

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  • 37. At 6:15pm on 14 Sep 2009, seedy-bee wrote:

    I agree with Anne P - use the approach adopted by the Shipping Forecast. Divide the UK up into a number of Regions, then go through the forecast region by region, in a standardised order. That way, we would know that our region would always be mentioned, and we would not be left guessing. If people were unsure what region their town or city fell into, a map could be included on the BBC weather website. (I'm definitely one of the 60% who drift off, by the way!)

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  • 38. At 6:16pm on 14 Sep 2009, annelebas wrote:

    A simple list - no "story" - would help, perhaps preceded by some explanation of where the weather is coming from (a depression to the south of the UK is moving northward, bringing wind and rain etc.... Just go round the regions and say whether it is going to be hot, cold, windy, rainy etc.
    Having said this, the radio forecasts are MUCH better than the TV forecasts where I have heard such drivel as "we're going to be turning the shower tap on tomorrow..." Some forecasters (you know who you are) are addicted to presenting the weather as if it was an episode of Eastenders, full of drama and intrigue. Please stop! I am also fed up with being told that there are "organised showers" (organised by whom...?) and references to "our" weather, as if it was some sort of pet animal - a rather cute but badly behaved dog, for example - which we can't help feeling some affection for even when it has ripped up the sofa.

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  • 39. At 6:17pm on 14 Sep 2009, warriorrichardblog wrote:

    yes the current forecast is well meaning drivel. Th best forecast used to be done on Sunday's Broadcasting House when an actor would read slowly and clearly an edited version of the official forecast. It was wonderfully clear and helpful.

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  • 40. At 6:18pm on 14 Sep 2009, PilotPhil wrote:

    First, get rid of the regional accents. Standard 'BBC' speaking voice will do.

    Stop the gabbling. The slower the speech the better.

    More precise information, as in local radio in the USA, Suggest:

    SCOTLAND Winds out of the North East 10 mph, Partly Cloudy, Temperature 25, Rain tonight.

    ENGLAND Winds light, Cloudy, Temperature 22, Some rain in the South.

    WALES Calm, Clear, Sunny, Hot 28degrees !

    Takes about one minute and is easy to remember.

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  • 41. At 6:22pm on 14 Sep 2009, tony_lavelle wrote:

    We wouldn't tolerate the news being delivered so badly. How does the BBC choose the weather readers? Why not simply get the forecast composed and read by those who have the necessary communication skills? If the BBC can't find or train a meteorologist in this skills, get John Humphreys to do it.

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  • 42. At 6:27pm on 14 Sep 2009, jules1967 wrote:

    I don't have too much problem with remembering the weather forecast, but I do sometimes struggle to understand it.

    What, for example, is a "sharp" shower? One that begins and ends quickly? Or one where the raindrops are pointy? I know what a sudden shower might be, and I understand what light and heavy rain or snow might refer to. But "SHARP"??

    I sent an email to the Met Office to ask them this very question and, apart from the holding reply to say my request was being dealt with, haven't heard anything form them since. Perhaps PM will have more luck?

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  • 43. At 6:28pm on 14 Sep 2009, Minnesotabay wrote:

    Radio forecast are not so bad as on television where some presenters (no names no pack drill) try to make a stand up commedy turn of it. Make it more like the shipping forecast which has become an icon for the clear and accurate presentation of information.

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  • 44. At 6:34pm on 14 Sep 2009, hotweatherbird wrote:

    I wish that the weatherpeople, wouldn't first review the day's past weather, we know that. Worst of all is their subjectivity, just give us the weather facts straight. I don't want to know that they think it is an unpleasant & hot sticky night. You speak for yourself, I like those nights! They sometimes qualify the rain as miserable, or other various subjective adjectives, I can feel those myself if I want to, which I usually do not. Different people like different weather, PLEASE DON'T QUALIFY THE FORECAST.

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  • 45. At 6:39pm on 14 Sep 2009, hayesjpr wrote:

    I think the most effective way to present the land forecast would be to stick to a format, as the shipping forecast does.
    Start with a general synopsys and then go round the UK clockwise with say eight areas: East Scotland, NE England, SE England, SW England, Wales, NW England, Northern Ireland and West Scotland. All most of us want to know is: wet or dry, hot or cold and anything unusual such as gales, fog (or plagues of locusts as someone else suggested)
    An outlook would also be welcome.
    Roger Hayes

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  • 46. At 6:42pm on 14 Sep 2009, andyvictormeldrew wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 47. At 6:47pm on 14 Sep 2009, skippersanchor wrote:

    I agree with the respondent who said "Give the area first, then the relevant area forecast". I've longed for this for years!

    Problem solved!

    But I do also like an overview of the major weather systems ie are they coming from the west or south-west, anticlockwise, or from the east, or north east etc

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  • 48. At 6:54pm on 14 Sep 2009, northwestsussex wrote:

    In the past the weather forecast was provided region by region, starting with the southeast through the southwest etc. and provided a simple straight forward comment on each area. This meant you need only focus on the area of interest.

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  • 49. At 7:00pm on 14 Sep 2009, grumblebuttock wrote:

    The object of radio weather forecasts is for listeners not television viewers, so:
    Use clear-speaking well-modulated continuity announcers instead of inarticulate gabblers.
    Construct the sequence of facts to be understood without reference to a map.
    Precede each area forecast with a statement of its limits; follow with the facts; and finally confirm the area covered.
    Finish with an overall survey of the outlook
    This will take more time than is used now so it should return to a slot five minutes before the hour and sacrifice absurd over-dramatised trailers.
    If there is any time left the continuity person can announce a trailer.

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  • 50. At 7:03pm on 14 Sep 2009, Alec wrote:

    Oh dear oh dear, what is wrong with everyone's memories? Possibly this speaks volumes about radio 4/PM's listeners? Surely it's not that hard to pick out words like - showers, sun, rain, etc - and somewhere near you?
    But then I am a big fan of the forecasts and have been since I was a kid - disrupting mealtimes by rushing off to the bedroom radio to see if it was going to snow. Now I feel sorry for the forecasters. Will they get 1 minute? 2? 3? or on a light news day even longer? They never know until the last minute. I'd like to hear about upper atmosphere conditions, jet stream and more. Fat chance given the theme of this blog!

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  • 51. At 7:04pm on 14 Sep 2009, Foylegirl wrote:

    what is the problem with the weather forecast?Is Paul Simon's attention span so poor that he can't listen to a few straightforward and concise regional forecasts? Indeed, London and the "home counties" are, more often than not, dealt with first. It's we poor damp inhabitants of "Scotland and Northern Ireland" who have to do all that hard concentrating right to the end of that ENDLESS, 2 minute forecast!!!Come on you whingers, (who generally get the best of the weather anyway,)GET A LIFE!!!! There's absolutely nothing wrong with the weather forecast!! It's a few lazy-minded listeners who are the problem.!

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  • 52. At 7:16pm on 14 Sep 2009, parkylondon wrote:

    I get more (better) land-based weather information from the Shipping Forecast. Why can't the Met Office apply a more "zoned" approach to the weather?

    Announce the area, tell us what is going on for next 24 hours (wet/dry, temp, wind) and then move on.

    The Met Office has an excellent website with a clean, clear, forecasting system baked in. Use it.


    Paul parkinson
    @parkylondon on twitter

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  • 53. At 7:20pm on 14 Sep 2009, tony_lavelle wrote:

    Particular irritations are:
    1. Dropping the voice, usually on the most important point, so you can't hear with background noise in the car or kitchen. Tom S is worst offender.
    2. Distracting intonation: "England AND Wales"
    3. Odd/ambiguous naming of regions: "The Province" (meaning NI) and "The North"
    4. Tautologies: "misty AND murky"
    5. Unclear terminology and jargon: "organised rain" is the worst but "bits and pieces of rain" and showers "bubbling up" come close
    6. What does "rain clearing east" mean: the east clears first or last?
    7. Leaving London and the SE out completely, after waffling on about the Hebrides and Northern Ireland. A lot of people live in my corner of the UK!

    We need professional communicators not just meteorologists. Isn't this obvious?

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  • 54. At 7:21pm on 14 Sep 2009, CatBar2 wrote:

    Cut the cackle! Precision please. And NO - absolutely NO - gabbling, slurring or swallowing words or sloppy diction.
    One suggested example: "In [give name of region], as today, tomorrow should remain cloudy/foggy/cool/wet/dry/windy/calm/for part/most/all of the day/should be generally sunnier/warmer/colder/wetter/drier/clearer/foggier/windier/calmer than today, with temperatures of up to [..]degrees centigrade - that's [..]fahrenheit."
    Then give a concise indication of how the day might start [cool/wet/foggy etc], up to whenever [midday/late afternoon/evening/throughout day], and then, if necessary, any likely conditions [warmer/drier etc] after this, giving temperatures (both centigrade and fahrenheit). Finally, indicate what the outcome is throughout the night [wetter/windier etc].
    And that should be it.

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  • 55. At 7:24pm on 14 Sep 2009, annasee wrote:

    I used to like the weather forecast on BH when that nice young man (I forget his name) always used to tell us "so do wrap up". He was usually right.

    Anyone know what happened to him?

    I mostly don't bother to listen to the forecast as so many things about it annoy me. The chit chat. The "And that's YOUR weather" catchphrase. The lack of knowing when our bit of the country will be mentioned. The possible inaccuracy of the forecast. I have a relative who's a meteorologist in NZ so I know all the problems of forecasting in an island environment. Best not to build up your expectations, so as not to be disappointed if the forecast is wrong, I find...

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  • 56. At 7:27pm on 14 Sep 2009, rahstarfish wrote:

    I am so glad to know it's not just me who zones out. The two experts put it very well.
    There are also certain forecasters who seem to breathe / pause in the oddest places and run words together which makes it even harder to understand. I listen out every day for the forecast and then it's gone and I don't remember what it is which is very frustrating!

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  • 57. At 7:28pm on 14 Sep 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Annasee (55): That nice young man you mention is still hanging around somewhere, though I believe he is a little older now. Or is it the case that as we've got older they all look - or, in his case, sound - much younger now?

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  • 58. At 8:25pm on 14 Sep 2009, LittletonAlan wrote:

    Maybe I was being cynical when I heard the beginning of this item today, but I thought that it was a deliberate ploy to make the forecasts readily forgettable - if you can't remember what you were told, you don't know if it was right or wrong!

    However, I drove the rest of the way home thinking that there is a simple, tried, tested and proven answer to this - do it like the Shipping Forecast. Reading earlier posts, clearly many others think the same!!

    I understand that the BBC (even Radio 4) is constantly treading a tightrope between entertainment and information, but this is one area where the emphasis needs to be on information first.

    This is the first time I have felt strongly enough about something I have heard on your programme to comment on the blog - thank you for the opportunity.

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  • 59. At 8:34pm on 14 Sep 2009, Briantist wrote:

    I just love the deep irony that people are posting on a blog about a radio weather forecast, one click away from the very visual BBC Weather.

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  • 60. At 8:37pm on 14 Sep 2009, Briantist wrote:

    @tony_lavelle wrote "3. Odd/ambiguous naming of regions: "The Province" (meaning NI) and "The North""

    Last time I looked, England and Scotland were countries, Wales is a principality and NI is a Province. Isn't The North the bit above The Midlands and below Scotland that has Yorkshire in it?

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  • 61. At 9:17pm on 14 Sep 2009, jpsage wrote:

    For memorable weather the answer has already been found on Radio 1. The Chris Moyles show "One word weather with Nelson Mandela" is extremely memorable and almost always gives sufficient information to tell you whether to take a brolly or not.

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  • 62. At 9:28pm on 14 Sep 2009, Vile Consort wrote:

    Shipping forecast style gets my vote - and read by an announcer, not a meteorologist who can't control their intonation.

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  • 63. At 9:41pm on 14 Sep 2009, oddview wrote:

    The best weather report I ever heard and which I could remember without fail is the shipping forecast. It states region by region the 4 essentials you need to know (in this case speed and direction of the wind, whether it'll rain and visibility. I too tire of the usual "well, Cambridge was sunny today, but Stornoway was not", followed by a detailed adjective-ridden narrative about lows moving swiftly over the rolling hills of Dorset, or the rapidly advancing cold fronts that...

    Can we have a straightforward "West Country sunny 20 degrees, later rain from the east, Scotland cloudy, rain later, 12 degrees" etc.

    Actually, the worst are the Australians. Last trip to Perth, on the 6 o'clock ABC news, I had 8 minutes of weather REPORT - some guy stood in the middle of the sun showing all how hot it is, followed by detailed reports from all over the huge place on how hot it was today, followed by a detailed review how hot it will be tomorrow, followed by the tidal report - they have a range of about 1/2 a meter. 8 minutes to say "stay inside because tomorrow will be as hot as today".

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  • 64. At 10:12pm on 14 Sep 2009, datafusion wrote:

    Follow the shipping forecast format, but properly define once and for all where the various regions are; eg is the "North West" defined as Manchester, the Lake District or the Ayrshire coast? The same applies for the "Midlands" and the "South".

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  • 65. At 10:37pm on 14 Sep 2009, fabnorming wrote:

    For a start you can use readers with clear voices! Whenever I hear that the reader is Laura someone - I switch to radio 2! I can't stand that voice which seems to want to clear her voice before speaking - but doesn't! Useless!

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  • 66. At 10:54pm on 14 Sep 2009, Ben_Kaye wrote:

    Dear Eddie,
    As I'm sure so many listeners have already pointed out...

    Just present the Weather as it is presented concisely to the professionals whose lives depend on an easily-understandable forecast i.e. The Shipping Forcast.

    Declare the region first, followed by a condensed version of the current Weather and Outlook:
    "Dorset, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset; Sunny, Rain Later. Outlook improving."

    I do live in Dorset, and our county has never been identified on the more-general forecast as to which region it actually belongs, so that in itself would be very useful.

    Turn the forecast into a cult. A voice that never fails to melt the stoutest fisherman's heart can surely fail to stir your listeners.

    A big fan of intelligent radio,

    Ben Kaye

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  • 67. At 11:18pm on 14 Sep 2009, funnydice wrote:

    I agree - use the iconic shipping forecast format.
    If the meteorologist feels the need to add a stylist marker or witty flourish, they can do it at the end when we have stopped listening.

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  • 68. At 11:20pm on 14 Sep 2009, xl5xl5 wrote:

    I am so pleased that PM has championed this issue. The weather forecasts seem to have become very verbose over the last year. It seems some image consultant has tried to make the readers sound less boring - but when a serious channel like R4 has serious, detailed information to impart then it should be: (a) well structured, for input to our short-term auditory memory (b) boring, so that no reader personality interferes with the information transfer and (c) concise, to the point, and simple.

    Well structured for input - I would agree with the post which advised emulating the shipping forecast. Don't flit between general, UK-wide, week-long general outlooks and then swoop down for a bit of blether about one part of the country for the next few days, then back to today in East Anglia etc .... Decide whether the information will be presented primarily by date or by area; then announce each heading clearly without extra words - so out goes "and now let me tell you a bit about what's going to be happening over the next few days in East Anglia..." and in should come "Today's forecast. East Anglia. " and then ".... South-West England" etc.

    Concise - don't tell us what we will need to wear, or what's going to happen at the cricket. Just tell us the weather !!!!

    In short - less blather; more weather !

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  • 69. At 11:23pm on 14 Sep 2009, Yorktalk wrote:

    In days of old when weather readers were bold our counties were read out first.
    Then listeners would know where the wind would blow, but now it's a muddle that's cursed.

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  • 70. At 11:25pm on 14 Sep 2009, LionHeartedLion wrote:

    Don't we give the same lack of attention to almost everything?

    The answer to Paxman's fourth or fifth question, a few sentences from Attenborough's or Fry's anecdote, almost all of any politician's speech -in fact, one could say the middle third of everything we hear (Cantor's Law of Inattention) we miss out on. Instead we soliloquise, check out our latest social gambits, etc.

    With the news we get an intro summary. We pick up on the following full accounts that interest us and muse through the rest.

    The weather doesn't usually go back to anything in an obvious reprise way. It just goes today, tomorrow, tomrrow and tomorrow, the next day or two, goodbye. Once musing takes hold there's no hook to pull us back.

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  • 71. At 11:44pm on 14 Sep 2009, A5TUR5 wrote:

    The Weather Forecast;
    I agree with the previous contributers, the Shipping Forecast is an ideal template for radio weather forecast announcements. Firstly your attention is directed to your area of interest and then the forecast for the weather. That's all we need.

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  • 72. At 11:56pm on 14 Sep 2009, Lilians twin wrote:

    Please use The Shipping Forecast format. Region first followed by the weather.

    Need to know when to pay attention. It is hopeless when they ramble on about some weather conditions or other and only mention the area right at the end almost as an afterthought.

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  • 73. At 00:13am on 15 Sep 2009, LovelyLadyPen wrote:

    Um . . . am I the only person out here wondering whether those-in-peril-on-the-sea acksherly listen to the shipping forecast any more? Aren't there higher-tech versions of relevant weather they can access whenever they need to? I can't imagine being in peril etc and desperately waiting for 'Sailing by' to finish so I can find out what my chances are of seeing the morning . . .

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  • 74. At 06:10am on 15 Sep 2009, MsMarkworthy wrote:


    Too much time is dedicated to the weather forecast and, in accordance with Parkinson's Law, this leads to too many words and too much information. And if the time slot is curtailed, the forecasters gabble these many words so that none of them can be heard or understood.

    We don't need a story. We don't need to know how the weather has been, and we don't need to know what's causing it -- we just want to know what they are going to be in our region over the next 24 hours.

    So we want a slightly extended version of the Today forecast: region, temperature, precipitation, wind.

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  • 75. At 06:16am on 15 Sep 2009, MsMarkworthy wrote:

    And another thing...

    In striving for variety in order to retain our interest, many forecasters employ a sing-song rise and fall sort of delivery -- the result being that only the high notes are audible. A more straightforward delivery please!

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  • 76. At 06:52am on 15 Sep 2009, muftimanant wrote:

    Shorten it?

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  • 77. At 06:59am on 15 Sep 2009, captainmcphil wrote:

    To/ PM Blog
    From/ Captain Philip Southall

    The Current Debate on How to Remember the Weather Forecast!

    Learning and Memory are part of the same brain function. The process is certainly not automatic and requires appropriate stimulus for successful outcome.

    1) You walk up the steps to enter your Bank and four men walk down past you. You’ll be none the wiser. If, however, you hear a pistol shot, you will be able to give the Police a perfect description, many hours later, without any effort at all.
    2) The spotty, bone idle, over-weight, pig-ignorant, feckless, door-slamming adolescent schoolgirl suddenly becomes an Expert in Chemistry. It emerges she has a ‘crush’ on her Chemistry Teacher.
    3) None of us had difficulty remembering the weather forecasts of Michael Fish, we were subconsciously waiting for him to get it wrong again!
    4) We all cope with the 'Shipping Forecast' because it follows a set 'form' just like the stories in the New Testament Gospels.


    Philip Southall

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  • 78. At 08:20am on 15 Sep 2009, pithywriter wrote:

    Many years ago I was a paid auxiliary coast guard. One of my jobs was to note down the shipping forecast for Humber Thames our area - so that we could pass on the info to anyone at sea who missed it.

    The shipping forecast reading is clear and concise and (I think) follows around the coast/country clockwise. This meant I did not have to focus until It was approaching our area and then announced "Humber Thames" after which I switched off. The weather forecast could use a similar logic, brief, more useful style.
    And don't get me on the annoyance of 'news bulletins' with 'half stories' that usually do not make sense and then the endless repetition all day every half hour!

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  • 79. At 09:08am on 15 Sep 2009, digipumpkin wrote:

    First of all digipumpkin is your creation - not mine! I agree with many of last night's contributions. Cut the waffle about today and next week. Tell us with as much accuracy as you can muster what the forecast is for the whole of the UK. Vast swathes of the country get no mention at all and listeners are left hanging on for some brief reference to their own location. How about giving us all a number - a 'weather area'. Collate by postcode (as everything is nowadays)and then all we have to do eg is listen out for a reference to 'Area no. 9' I live in the midst of a triangle formed by Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield - [Personal details removed by Moderator]. Forecasters can't decide if we are West or East, and we seem to fall into a triangular hole. I challenge any forecaster to get the weather right 50% of the time in [Personal details removed by Moderator] in a 6-day period...... Peter Lorimer

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  • 80. At 10:04am on 15 Sep 2009, Listen_To_This wrote:

    Peoples small span of attention and a lack of understanding is very often a problem here. I don't often forget the forecast and like to understand the whole picture.
    I am afraid the little forecasts on the Today program are totally useless - "Sunny in the south and windy in the west". What the hell does that tell you! It says nothing about temperature, cloud cover, direction of wind and what about the north and east?

    Just imagine if the financial news was as simple as the Today program weather forecasts! Or is it already?

    What the weather has in store is vital to what I do for work - do I work out in the field or inside compiling data? Will I be able to get enough time inside to compile data when the weather is bad? If I know the forecast for the day or week I can plan ahead. In my other job (catering) the weather will strongly influence what does and does not sell (hot & sunny, few buy baked potatoes or soup). It also influences peoples psychology.

    Understanding the whole weather system is important to me and many others, as one can calculate and do your own bit of forecasting if the presenter hasn't already or the models don't go that far.
    I am often interested to hear how it is in other parts of the country or Europe it is good to know if friends or relatives are having good sunny warm weather, strong cold winds and sun or it is warm clam but cloudy. One can then identify if that weather is about to come to us or visa-versa.

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  • 81. At 10:43am on 15 Sep 2009, bertusRo wrote:

    Regarding the weather forecast on the radio, to me it sounds like poetry, it sounds great but most of the time I don't fully grasp it.
    So, I would start with announcing the amount of weather types that are relevant for the forecast of the day (for instance 3 weather types).
    Then I would state for each area which weather type is applicable and, if it's more than one for one area, when (for instance Central Scotland type '2', Wales '1' in the morning, moving to '2' in the afternoon, etc).
    By then the listener knows for his/her area which bit of the subsequent, more complicated information is relevant.
    Then I would continue which explaining one by one the different weather types (for instance 1 is overcast etc). The listener hopefully can now easily blank out any information not relevant for his/her area.
    Best regards

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  • 82. At 11:19am on 15 Sep 2009, SuperSparky14 wrote:

    Why not put the weather forecast to music with different tunes for sunny weather, rain, strong winds etc - then we'd only need to hear a snatch to know the basic weather pattern for the day!

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  • 83. At 11:20am on 15 Sep 2009, JohnSuffolk wrote:

    Presentation: the best I've ever heard on R4 was by Elizabeth Saary - sadly, mostly confined to tv these days, I believe. The other presenters (and most of your reporters) could learn from her.

    Content: a probability percentage would be useful. They always know how likely it's going to be accurate but the won't tell you!

    And I often wonder, is Essex/South Suffolk in East Anglia?

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  • 84. At 12:23pm on 15 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    What would you suggest to improve how we remember the radio forecast?

    If I had a good idea, I would be a wealthy person for the rest of my life....

    (Use simpler language)

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 85. At 12:55pm on 15 Sep 2009, jas wrote:

    I recall someone from Radio 4 defending the present format - the idea was to give the weather forecast in the order of the most extreme weather first. I think this dubious principle is still in use.
    On what possible basis does this make for an effective communication of a forecast for anyone listening? This is shining example of the BBC thinking it knows best - "we think we have the balance about right" (the stock phrase you hear on Feedback from anyone hauled up to react to complaints). This list of views on the radio forecast surely confirms that they currently have this forecast presentation completely wrong. Some of the speakers give out the chatty verbiage as if they were at gunpoint, and forced to come out with more and more vacuous nonsense in an ever-decreasing time-slot. Either change the format, or simply replace it with the Shipping Forecast - whose format I have never, ever heard anyone complain about. Funny, that?

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  • 86. At 5:38pm on 15 Sep 2009, Buddhaman wrote:

    Just make it like the shipping forecast - go around the country in a set pattern and give very basic information e.g. temperature, precipitation, sunniness, wind etc.


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  • 87. At 5:50pm on 15 Sep 2009, OptimistChap wrote:

    I was totally distracted (with tears of laughter) at the so called Jingles. But a wonderful idea - perhaps they need to reflect the region: Sussex by the Sea for the South, D'ye ken John Peel for the North east etc. But the whole presentation of weather needs to be reviewed: always in the same sequence for one thing, say starting in the furthest north (to keep our Scots cousins on board) and each day separated as a single issue. But keep up trying to find a memorable way.

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  • 88. At 5:53pm on 15 Sep 2009, billycheetah wrote:

    I think the idea about adding bird song to the weather forecast is super. I can never concentrate for the full weather forecast as they are just far too soporific.

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  • 89. At 5:58pm on 15 Sep 2009, DavidStevenson90 wrote:

    Stick to the same format every time, mentioning all areas in the same order and don't skip any or lump them together. For instance, I can find that sometimes I am in 'Southern England', sometimes 'The South East', sometimes 'Central Southern England' to name but three. Consequently, I can miss my area forcast while waiting for where I think I live - Central Southern England, which then fails to get a mention! Grrr!

    And BTW, please tell your TV colleagues to ask Daniel ? to stop referring to the 'the finishing number'. I presume he means the maximum temperature but it could be the temperature expected at one minute to midnight--or the peak wind speed, or anything.

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  • 90. At 5:59pm on 15 Sep 2009, shppingforecastfan wrote:

    I agree with other comments, especially in relation to the shipping forecast format (with the addition of temperature to the wind speed and precipitation, (maybe the air pressure for each region could be left out because it could be mentioned in the introduction).

    Start with any weather warnings so that people in that area know they need to pay special attention.

    Start or continue with an introduction so we all know 'the general situation' - ie - what is the weather system we are in or going to be in (high pressure bringing settled weather to the north west of the UK is moving away north).

    Then go round UK systematically giving short detail, eg NE Scotland, dry but generally cloudy in the morning, possible showers later, moderate breeze from the south increasing later, highest temperature 16 degrees, lowest temperature 6 degrees overnight.

    Then if possible give the outlook for the next couple of days.

    Finish with a short succinct summary comment giving the forecaster's personal view (Rob McElwee is particularly good at this).

    I realise this type of forecast may be rather boring to deliver but being a night owl I am a fairly regular listener to the shipping forecast and no-one has fallen asleep reading it out yet as far as I know! I won't find it boring to listen to, I like to have my imagination stimulated, it helps my memory retention, and I don't need additional suggestions like 'it will feel warm in the sunshine'! or 'you may need your brolly'!

    Anyway, to all weather forecasters and broadcasters, keep up the good work, we need you!

    (Just listened to Peter Gibbs forecast!! Very good!)

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  • 91. At 6:01pm on 15 Sep 2009, OptimistChap wrote:

    Dear Sirs

    I just heard your Shipping forecast style weather forecast. Marvellous! Just one thing: the sequence of travelling around the UK. SE corner jumping to Wales was confusing. But a great start.

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  • 92. At 6:01pm on 15 Sep 2009, Lars Post wrote:

    Always state the regions in the same order and read them in the accent of that region.

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  • 93. At 6:03pm on 15 Sep 2009, staffyfriend wrote:

    Thank you for the weather forecast with the bird calls ......... I have no idea what the weather will be like as I was laughing at my dog who was sure that an owl, then a duck were in the kitchen and had to be searched out.

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  • 94. At 6:05pm on 15 Sep 2009, cannyKristin wrote:

    Radio 4 weather reports are not memorable because their content is meaningless. Let's face it; there are only two forecasts:
    1) There will be some sunny spots somewhere sometime.
    2) There will be some rainy spots somewhere sometime.

    Forecasters' use of silly alliteration, hop-scotch organization, and sartorial advice are merely efforts to disguise this lack of useful information.

    Viva the shipping forecast!

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  • 95. At 6:05pm on 15 Sep 2009, weatherfan wrote:

    Weather forecast in shipping forecast style tonight was excellent; Shipping Forecast is very informative.

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  • 96. At 6:07pm on 15 Sep 2009, jas wrote:

    It works! The version given just now in the same style as the Shipping Forecast was ideal! The other birdsong idea was too frivolous to comment on, I'm afraid. Too bad if the presenter found it boring - not half as boring as the former ramblings are to the listener, which boredom raised this whole issue. I suggest making it even more terse - people only need to know, and can take in, only a few facts. Obviously, the areas and especially the order they are given in must remain constant. The "outlook" bit at the end was good too. Above all, dispense with anything remotely "chatty". Well done; there was nothing good about the old format, if only the BBC would admit it!

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  • 97. At 6:07pm on 15 Sep 2009, gimmerlamb wrote:

    Brilliant, you got it right today (Tuesday) I liked both Philip and Peter . I think that Philip was first ? He mentioned specific places, so when he said Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire I knew that was relevant. Thankyou. And I also liked the style of the shipping forecast, it was clear and easy to understand. No superfluous words, no irrelevant chat. I was not sure about the bird song, but, yes , it could grow on me. But which county would get the cuckoo ? Many thanks for a much better weather forecast today. Keep it going please.

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  • 98. At 6:07pm on 15 Sep 2009, peterchristy wrote:

    Both my wife and I instinctively liked the shipping forecast format; simple, straight forward, factual, (if a weather forecast can be factual) and memorable.

    Peter and Hilary

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  • 99. At 6:10pm on 15 Sep 2009, biffothebirder wrote:

    Having just heard the "Shipping Forecast Style" forecast, I would certainly give it all my votes. Presumably if this system is adopted the sequence of areas will remain the same from day to day, so we will know roughly when to start paying attention. And presumably, for all the obvious reasons, London and the South East will always come first! !
    As to it being a boring system, and not exciting for the news-reader, it's not supposed to be entertainment and the readers should be informers rather than entertainers.

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  • 100. At 6:11pm on 15 Sep 2009, flyhighsteve wrote:

    The shipping forecast format worked exremely well. If the country were divided into discrete regions (as the coastal waters are) and these are used sequentially (as in the shipping forecast) then everybody would know when to listen attentively and when they can "drift off". It has worked for many years on the shipping forecast and I feel sure would work for the "general weather forecast" too!

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  • 101. At 6:11pm on 15 Sep 2009, shoodles wrote:

    You got it right.
    The shipping forecast format was spot on.
    My husband came in from the garden saying the same thing.

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  • 102. At 6:16pm on 15 Sep 2009, AndrewMaries wrote:

    Of all the things on Radio 4 and BBC TV, it's the weather forecasts that irritate me the most! Tonight on PM Radio 4 was the first time for years that I actually appreciated one. What a breath of fresh air the more straight Shipping Forecast style adopted by Peter Gibbs was! It did away with the idiosyncratic mannerisms of style and accent which have bedeviled forecasts and which stop me remembering anything that they have to say. Let's just have the weather. We don't need their patronising chirpy, over exuberant efforts!

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  • 103. At 6:19pm on 15 Sep 2009, VillageDuckpond wrote:

    I found the whole thing so amusing that I wasn't paying attention to the actual information and just waiting for the next strange noise. Did anyone else feel the same?

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  • 104. At 6:20pm on 15 Sep 2009, weatherfan wrote:

    In the past we always got the weather at 55mins to the hour and got 5 mins of weather forecast; in the past few years this has got whittled down to 3 minutes if we are lucky.

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  • 105. At 6:21pm on 15 Sep 2009, R4_Fan wrote:

    The weater forcast in the style of the "shipping forcast" was brilliant and represented the change required. When will the relevent chart be published? .... R4_Fan

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  • 106. At 6:22pm on 15 Sep 2009, hpbstigliano wrote:

    Please, please give us the 'shipping forecast' style: places, forecast for those places and nothing more.
    It was telling that when you asked the presenter did he enjoy doing it; he said yes but thought that he would get bored !
    That is the problem, the presenters think that they are in 'Show Business' and are not there to just give us a weather forecasts which are factual and not peppered with their judgenents as to what is 'good' weather and what is 'bad' weather.

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  • 107. At 6:23pm on 15 Sep 2009, thecuddlycat wrote:

    The Shipping Forecast style forecast was absolutely brilliant. So clear. Could we have 'Sailing By' as well??
    PS - Eddie for PM,(if you see what I mean) or, failing that, Eddie to host the Part Leaders' Debate - if it ever happens!

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  • 108. At 6:24pm on 15 Sep 2009, circepussycat wrote:

    Yes! Today's experimental forecast in shipping format was brilliant. Brief and precise, what more can anyone want?

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  • 109. At 6:27pm on 15 Sep 2009, euronerd wrote:

    Excellent idea, the weather forecast in shipping forecast format. I've always thought that our inability to recall the forecast is due to our not hearing a recogniseable local name, which would be impractical. This idea seems to be the easiest way to overcome that, and it would also, as we became familiar with it, give us a subconscious prod at the point we needed to start listening.

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  • 110. At 6:37pm on 15 Sep 2009, jackharr wrote:

    Bird sounds don’t relate to regions but exaggerated local accents would. So a rich Geordie voice announcing “North East England” and a Norfolk voice for East Anglia and so on.

    Jack Harrison, Cambridge

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  • 111. At 6:38pm on 15 Sep 2009, hafodia wrote:

    Tonight's weather, done in the style of the Fishing forecast, was a great improvement on the usual meandering info. For this to work, like the inshore forecast, the areas must appear in the same order every night. (They don't have to 'chunk' in the same order, but rather let that be decided by the forecast, putting together those adjacent areas with the same forecast).
    Please keep it like this!

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  • 112. At 6:51pm on 15 Sep 2009, HenryHunt wrote:

    This evenings forecast was the clearest I've heard for years. It may be a little boring for the forecaster/presenter but Peter has an interesting job (been there, done that*). What he didn't mention that the areas in shipping forecast are read out in strict rotation, so that the listener knows when to concentrate (Peter won't like that either). If the object is to send information with clarity, this is the way to go.
    If it is supposed to entertain, then let's have the usual overpowering background music.
    *from a retired Met Ofiice forecaster

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  • 113. At 7:25pm on 15 Sep 2009, jaslek wrote:

    I couldn't beleive what you were doing with the birdsong tonight - I thought you were trying to make the forcaster laugh and distract him! Just keep it simple - people know which region they want to hear about, so state the region clearly up front, give 'em the bad news and move swiftly on to the next one. It ain't broke so why are you trying to fixit?

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  • 114. At 7:42pm on 15 Sep 2009, BeautifulSnowLeopard wrote:

    Patronising - I don't want to be told "you'll need to pop on a cardie today".

    Pointless - "I'll start the detail in ..." Irritating and superfluous.

    Painful - the garbled delivery, poor enunciation, "And that's YER weather", the chatty, yes-indeedy tone, boring references to sporting events, and being none the wiser about the weather in my neck of the woods.

    I stopped listening to these unprofessional-sounding ‘forecasts’ a long time ago, and instead refer to the Met Office website for its clarity and concision.

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  • 115. At 8:04pm on 15 Sep 2009, CJAtoll wrote:

    No weather for the north west (Cumbria) on Wednesday!!!??

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  • 116. At 8:25pm on 15 Sep 2009, theageofaquarius wrote:

    cant remember a thing about tomorrows weather forcast with the bird calls I was laughing too much, funniest thing I have heard in ages, straight out of Monty Python, really made my day, lets keep it

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  • 117. At 8:41pm on 15 Sep 2009, JacquelineDiane wrote:

    Maybe we should have far more doom and gloom re the weather forecasts as we have no problems in recalling the finer details of threats of bird flu`, swine flu` or predictions of imminent hurricanes or floods. Huge death tolls also help in ensuring that we remain alert and concentrative.
    Proof positive that good news doesn`t sell newspapers.


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  • 118. At 8:43pm on 15 Sep 2009, daviesf wrote:

    Weather forecast - What gets me is when John Humphrys says after a badly worded and delivered forecast, 'thanks, Laura'. Has he been actually listening or catching 3 minutes sleep? More appropriate would be for him to quote the title of hs book, Lost for words; (the mangling and manipulation of the English language)

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  • 119. At 9:08pm on 15 Sep 2009, OxfordJacko wrote:

    I heard the weather forcast this evening read out in 'shipping forcast style'.
    Usually during the weather forcast I always lose interest after about 10 seconds no matter how hard I try to concentrate, the reason being is that I am not interested about other parts of the country except for where I live, so by the time they have got back around to tomorrows weather my mind is elsewhere.
    Today I could listen to my relevant region in on hit and then day-dream about the possibility of some sun tomorrow as wales, scotland, Ireland, etc weather facts washed past me.
    Shipping forcast style weather is a winner!

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  • 120. At 9:39pm on 15 Sep 2009, Home_bird wrote:

    As a former sailor, I have long hoped for the weather forecast to be in the same order around the country, like the shipping forecast, with the simple meteorological facts, no waffle. It may be boring for the weather person (sorry) but it works brilliantly for listeners - a huge improvement, long may it continue!

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  • 121. At 9:54pm on 15 Sep 2009, ghooglemale wrote:

    The weather is the talk of the day for most every resident of this fine country, a proper understanding of the days weather events is essential - I propose a layout broadly in line with the following, it reflects our general opinion on the weather conditions prevailing at any time it should be presented as


    The capitalisation provides the summary, John Humphrys style, and generally fits the bill Nationwide.

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  • 122. At 11:11pm on 15 Sep 2009, clareye wrote:

    Quite agree that the shipping forecast format is much easier to concentrate on . However I find the timing of the weather forecast is the problem - at three minutes to six most tv channels change and the family appear and start talking , thus preventing me from hearing the main item I have been waiting for.
    What about moving the weather forecast to the end of the news ?

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  • 123. At 08:23am on 16 Sep 2009, squamousfresno wrote:

    Shipping forecast style weather forecasts on R4 - yes please...but keep the regions in the same order every time.

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  • 124. At 11:41am on 16 Sep 2009, McRhedley wrote:

    The shipping forecast format is a vast improvement. It is clear, precise and easy to follow. The chatty style can be irritating and vague. We don't need to know what the weather was like yesterday, neither do we need to know that we are going to "head through the afternoon". I live in Northumberland which rarely gets a mention. I never know whether to focus on Scotland or Northern England. Offering information region by region will help. I get better information listening to the actual shipping forecast when the Tyne Area comes up

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  • 125. At 6:04pm on 16 Sep 2009, jas wrote:

    Rob McElwee (sp?) started tonight's back-to-normal nonsense with "the weather divides nicely into three areas". Whoopie-do. That was the last we heard about the three mystery areas.
    Another example of the irrelevant verbiage that masks the information delivery.
    I repeat: NO-ONE HAS EVER COMPLAINED ABOUT THE FORMAT OF THE SHIPPING FORECAST. Dull? possibly, but then so is the the phone book, but it does what it is meant to do, in a clear and efficient way.

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  • 126. At 6:19pm on 16 Sep 2009, antstamp wrote:

    For a few months in the mid 1970s, the Today Programme presented the weather forecast interactively. The weatherman was in conversation with the programme presenter, sometimes almost interviewed by him. Brian Readhead or whoever it was would ask the forecaster, "Well are we going to have any rain in the South-East today?" or "When you say 'small chance' of showers, do you mean 2% or 20%?" It was by far the most successful format for the forecast I have ever heard. Please dig out the tapes and listen to some of these programmes again and you will see what I mean. A combination of the shipping forecast style, for those who prefer a more formal approach, and a conversational forecast, for those who would like something informal, would suit everyone.

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  • 127. At 6:22pm on 16 Sep 2009, twyrock wrote:

    What I would do is:

    1. Always give the weather for each region in the same order even if that means some repetition. I think we all start listening and then mentally switch off because it's such a jumble and we lose interest.

    2. Allow the forcaster enough time so that they don't have to speak ridiculously fast - ensure you only pick those with clear voices!

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  • 128. At 6:36pm on 16 Sep 2009, edtyley wrote:

    McRhedley has hit the nail on the head!A factual presentation is all that is required, to replace the dumbed-down version which has been the norm for far too long.
    I would just add one suggestion viz: that forecasters should be required to reach a standard of clarity in their delivery before being let loose on the air. An elocution course might help.
    Ed Tyley

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  • 129. At 9:23pm on 16 Sep 2009, maggymay10 wrote:

    I do believe that I have the answer.......Peter Gibbs with his shipping fcst style was PURRRFECT. No waffle, easily understood, just purrfect.

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  • 130. At 09:13am on 17 Sep 2009, Mazulio wrote:

    I get up before the 5.30 am Shipping forecast, which is generally clearly delivered but, not being a fisherman or sailor, is not always comprehensible to me. Most weather presenters having this slot deliver a fairly easily understood general weather forecast about three minutes later, but there are glaring exceptions. My problem is not with remembering the weather forecast details, it is understanding them. I had my hearing tested this week, it is perfect. Not "for your age" perfect, just "perfect". The technician said if I have trouble hearing someone, they "must be mumbling". Therefore, I would like to state that, IMHO, the majority of weather people have appalling diction and presentation skills. Why have weather presenters developed a self-indulgent need to become "personalities"? Television weather presenters wave their arms about, make peculiar faces, even prance around, thus distracting from their message – which is to deliver the weather forecast. Radio weather presenters have only their voices so now they try to make an impact with "Gooooooood morning" then launching into an incomprehensible gabble with the emphasis on all the wrong words and their voice sliding up and down the scale, presumably to make an impression. Prepositions (words expressing relationships between two other words) are so over-emphasised that the relevant words are drowned out. Phrasing is bad, weather presenters need to be trained to breathe properly in order to deliver a sentence clearly without gulping in the middle of a vital phrase. I spend so much time trying to decipher the words that I lose their import and am left without much, if any, idea of the likely weather in my area.

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  • 131. At 09:44am on 17 Sep 2009, LogicalJen wrote:

    The easiest forecast to become aware of as the radio chats on would be a "Shipping" forecast format. Also easiest to pin point one's area to listen to.

    Frequently I'm listening, but the voice says "and there will be rain in the afternoon in the South East". Since "South East" hasn't been mentioned I'm not alert and to mention it AFTER the weather, not before just means I miss it. Why often no wind direction, I need it.

    The bird song was better than at present, but we all know our area, why not just use that. I do at times have to listen to the Shipping Forecast. At least one knows the format and can concentrate easily on not missing one's area.

    Who agrees with me? Please BBC put the Area infront of the forecasted weather not dotted around as it seems to be at the moment. I tend to go on line for weather now - at least I know where I am in the country and I go straight there.

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  • 132. At 10:03am on 17 Sep 2009, elderlyshrink wrote:

    Hi Eddie,
    I think that if the weather presenter mentioned places as well as regions the weather report would be more memorable. The weather tends to be slightly different from place to palce and currently we get "North East England" or "Scotland" or " The South east". Why not say something like "Rain drifting south down the east coast from Durham to Skegness, maybe even a far as Boston, and inland in a line from Darlignton to the east of Leeds and no further inland than Lincoln. West of that line will be sunny, so Retford, Nottingham and Sheffield and Richmond should be fine"
    Also, if this takes off it might be nice to include villages and small towns, after all, millions of us live in small communities and we like to hear about our homes on the BBC.
    Maybe your weather people could play with this idea and come up with something that will be more personal for your listeners.

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  • 133. At 10:24am on 17 Sep 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    It's sunny here at the moment.

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  • 134. At 10:40am on 17 Sep 2009, LogicalJen wrote:

    I agree with all the comments requesting clarity of content and slowness of speech and clear enunciation. The bird song was sweet, but a forecast should be informative not entertainment. The shipping forecast format enables one to pinpoint an area and listen for it.

    At present the format of saying ‘and this rain will spread into the South East by midday’ means the vital words of my area – South East – come AFTER the forecast not before it. Many of us are not only listening to the radio but doing other tasks, to pick up easily on the forecast for our area is vital.

    I do hope all others who feel like this will add to these thoughts to persuade the BBC to give us a forecast where we can easily pin point our area and hear the weather

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  • 135. At 11:05am on 17 Sep 2009, LogicalJen wrote:

    I agree with all the comments requesting clarity of content and slowness of speech and clear enunciation. The bird song was sweet, but a forecast should be informative not entertainment. The shipping forecast format enables one to pinpoint an area and listen for it.

    At present the format of saying ‘and this rain with spread into the South East by midday’ means the vital words of my area – South East – come AFTER the forecast not before it. Many of us are not only listening to the radio but doing other tasks, to pick up easily on the forecast for our area is vital.

    I do hope all others who feel like this will add to these thoughts to persuade the BBC to give us a forecast where we can easily pin point our area and hear the weather.

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  • 136. At 11:43am on 17 Sep 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Still sunny here.

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  • 137. At 1:46pm on 17 Sep 2009, valans wrote:

    Weather forecast in Shipping Format MUCH easier to retain
    Please cut out the frills and forget the needs of the reader who said he 'might get bored'!!!

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  • 138. At 2:41pm on 17 Sep 2009, singingPerpetua wrote:

    I know we are discussing the weather forecast and how to make it clearer, but many of the comments refer to the way the readers emphasise the wrong words in the sentence, so that it becomes less clear. Many newsreaders also make the same mistakes with intonation so the sense of what they are saying is lost.

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  • 139. At 4:19pm on 17 Sep 2009, SwenglishGal wrote:

    Agree witht those who say no frills - state area first, then weather, end of story. Grew up in Sweden where this is what happens & mind never drifts as it does here during 'chatty' forcasts.
    Has anyone else noticed how often forcasters add an 's' after a country name, e.g. the weather in Englands will be... - v strange and drives me mad! OK for Wales but nowhere else!

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  • 140. At 5:53pm on 17 Sep 2009, Lysander91 wrote:

    I thought the regional forecast in regional accents excellent though I would have demurred at some of them

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  • 141. At 5:59pm on 17 Sep 2009, marionseaview wrote:

    I have a very simple way of improving the weather forecast. Keep it far shorter. The forecasters go on and on, particularly after the 10 pm news on BBC1. I always change to ITV where there forecasts are so much more concise.

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  • 142. At 5:59pm on 17 Sep 2009, art wrote:

    Liked the regional voices for the weather tonight- this really worked!
    Using the BBC regional newsrooms is a great idea- the national weather could be assembled from the regional forecasts already prepared saving costs too!

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  • 143. At 6:05pm on 17 Sep 2009, corporal7ra wrote:

    Definately NOT a jingle - it would sound like cheap commercial radio. For me, the lass with the North East accent was the most memorable. The Birmingham presenter was possibly the most annoying, but then Im probably a geographical chauvanist.......from the North East. No offence intended.

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  • 144. At 6:05pm on 17 Sep 2009, Nick Betts wrote:

    Regional accents is a great idea, especially for Radio 4 where the variety of regional accents is less than on some stations and less overt where they happen.
    And what is so difficult about getting the regional offices to file their local forecast and compile it into a bulletin.
    A predictable sequence (a la the Shipping Forecast) really helps if one does want to actually hear and remember the forecast.
    Equally, the regional accents version employed the device of naming the area first. The change of voice as well as accent punctuated the information effectively.
    As an Australian-raised Londoner living in Salisbury (where half the people have Home Counties accents, the other half West Country burrs) it didn't help me at all!
    Besides, in Salisbury our weather is sometimes the same as the SW and sometemes the SE, more often a shadow of both. And no two websites ever agree about my postcode!

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  • 145. At 6:09pm on 17 Sep 2009, Nick Betts wrote:

    On the ABC's Regional Network in Western Australia when I was young I remember somebody writing in (it was a long time ago) saying that they were considering naming their farm Elsewhere.
    The forecast always went through the varying weather events predicted across this vast State and finished with the words, "...and elsewhere fine."
    Of course, being a farmer, moreover an Australian farmer, he would have complained about the drought within days...

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  • 146. At 6:19pm on 17 Sep 2009, Medway Maid wrote:

    Shipping forecast style was rather good. Simple and straight forward.
    I still forgot my region because it was given first, but never mind.

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  • 147. At 6:26pm on 17 Sep 2009, warriorrichardblog wrote:

    the 'weather forecast' approach is definitely excellent.

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  • 148. At 7:43pm on 17 Sep 2009, Nickjowett wrote:

    I would concentrate more on the weather forecast if it made sense to me. Let me explain: out of my kitchen window I look into Scotland, out of my living room window I look into England. If I believe the weather forecast most days I would see different weather because of the way the forecast is delivered. Guess what? The natural world doesn't recognise borders so the forecast doesn't make sense.

    Regional accents don't work for me either. I'm not sure where the 'North West' accent was from but it certainly wasn't Cumbrian! (Reminds me of the day I heard Tony Blair was in the North West, only to hear next he was on Chester!!!! Come on BBC, this is a very Londoncentric notion!)

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  • 149. At 8:05pm on 17 Sep 2009, lifescientist wrote:

    Since the R4 transmissions go out from different transmitters all over the country, why can't you start the forecast with the region the transmitter(s) cover?

    I can just about remember what is said at the start, but quickly lose concentration. As it seems that most people around the country have the same inability to follow it through, why not make it easier for everyone by making it more of a local broadcast?

    This might not work so well for the online broadcast...

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  • 150. At 9:26pm on 17 Sep 2009, Nelliemoser wrote:

    I have been listening to this thread all week. I hear the 17:55 forecast and the 07:55 one usually driving to and from work. I agree with a number of the posts about a shipping forecast style approach.

    Go through the country from North to South the same order every day. Clearly announce the area, "headlining" each area by raising tone of voice. (Wednesday mornings offering seemed very jumbled and was delivered in something of a monotone when a new area was described.)

    Announce the area clearly and then give the weather for that area. the attempt with the regional accents worked quite well because each area was clearly headlined by the speaker. You dont need the accents just the "headlining"
    After doing each areas immediate forecast the more extended outlook for the whole country could be briefly covered.

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  • 151. At 11:15pm on 17 Sep 2009, kiwioiseau wrote:

    I thought that the weather report using regional accents was simply brilliant. It is clever and fun. Broader accents would be even better. I'd also like a little fear to accompany severe forcasts. If climate change brings us a tornado alley then a little bit of blair witch could creep in....

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  • 152. At 08:29am on 18 Sep 2009, SWMiranda wrote:

    I think the regional accents idea is the best so far. If you adopt it, it would be good to have stronger regional accents (I realise that you had to find last night's from your own staff - well done on the spur of the moment!)

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  • 153. At 12:23pm on 18 Sep 2009, tony_lavelle wrote:

    Apart from one or two contributors, the consensus is clear. The weather forecast is too important and too complex to be left to the meteorologists - unless they have training and guidance in how to communicate it. We need a radical overhaul, with a lot more clarity of structure and delivery. The newsdesk people know how to do it, so the skills are at hand.

    So, BBC, was this just a bit of fun or are we going to see some serious changes to the radio weather forecast?

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  • 154. At 1:30pm on 18 Sep 2009, lickleflicka wrote:

    The Weather and Mental Health
    (subtitle: The Restorative and Unifying Power of the British Instinct for Weather Comment)
    Thank you to all whingers in these weather blogs. You have relieved my fear that I was losing my marbles in being irritated by so many weather-reporting foibles. Thank goodness so many others have voiced their indignation - I feel 'normal' after all.
    P.S. A suggestion: besides responding to the clamour for simplification, clarity and orderliness, perhaps you could relieve the fear of tedium by beginning a region by region perambulation from a different point each day.
    I imagine many of us may enjoy the delight of an introductory line in an identified and authentic strong local accent such as "We are reporting the nation's weather today beginning here in Norwich, Norfolk which is in the East Anglian region (or wherever)". That way we'd get a mini-geography-lesson in the process and an appreciation of our rich linguistic diversity. (Henry Higgins might also require that the native district of the speaker also be identified.)
    And when nobody's regionally available, resort to RP. Long live RP.

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  • 155. At 2:03pm on 18 Sep 2009, LorneGifford wrote:

    I listened to the weather orecast intently the other day and accurately recalled the next morning that it was going to be a windy and sunny day. I got very wet. How about getting it right as a way of making us remember it?

    The most accurate weather forecast I’ve come across is ‘tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today’. Apparently it’s right 70% of the time and beats every other forecast hands down.

    Incidentally and on a completely unrelated subject, the Engineering & Technology Board provides free motivational speakers to schools and colleges who talk about real engineering careers. It's part of the 'Engineers Make it Happen' campaign and as noted is completely free and non-profit for anyone who asks for it.


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  • 156. At 5:49pm on 18 Sep 2009, cybercrapaud wrote:

    Last night (Thursday) with the regional accents worked best for me, but it seems that Yorkshire wasn't having any weather...

    Tonight (Friday) dreadful - totally lost in seconds....

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  • 157. At 5:49pm on 18 Sep 2009, LogicalJen wrote:

    Weather Forecasting
    I agree with all the comments requesting clarity of content and slowness of speech and clear enunciation. The bird song was sweet, but a forecast should be informative not entertainment. The shipping forecast format enables one to pinpoint an area and listen for it.

    At present the format of saying ‘and this rain with spread into the South East by midday’ means the vital words of my area – South East – come AFTER the forecast not before it. Many of us are not only listening to the radio but doing other tasks, to pick up easily on the forecast for our area is vital.

    I do hope all others who feel like this will add to these thoughts to persuade the BBC to give us a forecast where we can easily pin point our area and hear the weather.

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  • 158. At 5:53pm on 18 Sep 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    I liked tonight's.

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  • 159. At 5:57pm on 18 Sep 2009, Nelliemoser wrote:

    I have just listened tonight to your musical attmpt. Nice idea but the music was a complete distraction and the reader again told us the weather before telling us where it was. i will listen to the real thing.

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  • 160. At 6:02pm on 18 Sep 2009, gnignigni wrote:

    Just PLEASE keep the volume regular. It used to be just John McElwee I had to turn up painfully loud in order to hear the predominant, quiet, mumbly bits - now it's nearly all of them. Mind you, presenters can be just as bad (especially on the Today programme), but with the weather, I know it can be done, as one or two already do, and they all do on the shipping forecast!

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  • 161. At 6:04pm on 18 Sep 2009, pastim wrote:

    Anything that detracts from the information means my brain fogs up. So no music, no variation in accents, animal sounds, etc.. Keep it specific by region, with a very brief summary in the style of an abbreviated shipping forecast.

    Pictures would be good but a bit hard to do on the wireless.

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  • 162. At 6:04pm on 18 Sep 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Nelliemoser. What a great name.

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  • 163. At 6:05pm on 18 Sep 2009, dynamicSailor wrote:

    Reading it in the form of a Shipping forecast is great. Not only is it clear about an area it will always be read in that same order. I approve.

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  • 164. At 6:10pm on 18 Sep 2009, dynamicSailor wrote:

    What happened my comments last Monday 14/9/09 ?

    Is it possible to track my earlier messages ? If so please explain how to do it.

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  • 165. At 6:13pm on 18 Sep 2009, northantsbrian wrote:

    My problem with the normal weather forecast is that I mentally tune out while the area is not of interest and then do not notice when the area changes. The regional accents helped because it enabled me to hear when the area changed and so take notice.

    Any method of alerting listners to the change of area being reported would help. This could be increasing the volume as the areas are announced or adding a tone or tune just before a change of area.

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  • 166. At 6:29pm on 18 Sep 2009, Greybeard Loon wrote:

    I have always thought that the Shipping Forecast format would make a good model for the General Forecast; Tuesday's broadcast confirmed it. Please do what you can to get this adopted permanently.

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  • 167. At 6:37pm on 18 Sep 2009, No1-Hedonist wrote:

    I thought that the "shipping forecast" format was much the best, by a long way. Why not try it for a week or so, and see how we get on with a longer exposure?
    I live amonst northern regional accents, and like it but it isn't for the weather forecast!
    The nusical backgound was just distracting,and didn't help at all

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  • 168. At 7:55pm on 18 Sep 2009, i_amGordonJ wrote:

    The weather forecast broadcast on Tuesday in the form of the shipping forecast was clearer and more informative. In particular, it gave the wind speed and direction for each area, which is often omitted from the current forecasts.

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  • 169. At 8:58pm on 18 Sep 2009, airtiger78 wrote:

    I'm afraid I frequently find the weather forecasts memorable for the wrong reason: because they are so awful -- badly assembled, badly expressed, badly delivered and downright smug. For several years, they have been a constant source of irritation and even exasperation.
    The start of the rot was the glib ignorance of the difference between "then tomorrow" and "tomorrow, then". It's just been downhill ever since...
    The stream of idiotic verbiage and flippant phraseology appears to be never-ending, but here are a few examples: 'drizzly stuff/rain' [=drizzle], 'murky' [=what? dull?], 'as we go through the night-time period' [=tonight], 'that North Sea' [the North Sea], 'bits and pieces of rain', or even on occasion 'a bit and piece of rain'..., 'I suspect' (or 'I think') [irrelevant, unnecessarily personal], 'rain pushing its way', 'marching its way', 'showers popping up', 'clouds bubbling up', 'places like' [means what? places such as?].
    Worst of all, we get 'for most of us' or 'for most of you' -- either of which seems annoying and downright patronising in view of the apparent lunacy of the presenter -- or just 'for most'. The wanted phrase, apparently to be discounted on all relevant occasions, is 'for most places'.
    Why does the BBC put up with these nonsensical presentations? Why do we have to put up with them?
    The weather forecast should be treated as a proper (short) programme, scripted (to avoid the usual nonsense), edited properly -- and timed, so as to avoid a mad rush to fit in yet another (fixed length!) repeated advert of no importance (yawn) before the pips/chimes.
    Harumph [etc].

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  • 170. At 9:10pm on 18 Sep 2009, MugsyMay wrote:

    Yes yes yes to the weather being read out like the shipping forecast. I've thought that for years. If this counts as a vote, that's my vote. I hope to goodness things really will change after this - and why the heck has it taken so many years for the Beeb and all other boradasters to realise?

    Shipping Forecast

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  • 171. At 10:15pm on 18 Sep 2009, iomone wrote:

    I think the British like their verbal weather forecast in the style of the Shipping Forecast. It is in our blood. The Met Office likes to broadcast the weather like news, i.e. highlight the drama first then the rest. Sorry but the weather needs to be give in a standard way. Living in the Isle of Man I tend not to worry what is happening in North Foreland, however, I listen to Sole, Fastnet, Lundy, Irish Sea. And occasional Shannon so I know what is coming.

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  • 172. At 07:29am on 20 Sep 2009, 1946dylan wrote:

    Another vote for the shipping forecast format!
    But I guess this means allowing more time for it and less haste.

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  • 173. At 09:50am on 20 Sep 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    I think it would be better if they gave a weather aftercast. It would be much more accurate.

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  • 174. At 09:51am on 20 Sep 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    Besides, 'forecast' sounds like something the devil might do to you.

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  • 175. At 3:14pm on 20 Sep 2009, Coldrum wrote:

    Why don't weather forecasters know the difference between "here" and "there"? They keep saying things like "The southeast, here it will be suuny..." I assume the forecaster is in the southeast, then he says "Scotland has been fine and here it will be cloudy..." so I think he must be in Scotland. By the end of the forecast he has referred to the southeast, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as "here". Well he can't be in four places at once, can he?

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  • 176. At 11:46pm on 20 Sep 2009, MsSailor wrote:

    I listened to two of the broadcasts made and found the one using regional accents kept my attention.

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  • 177. At 6:08pm on 12 Oct 2009, FrancesNicholson wrote:

    Have just listened to the new style forecast. Seems just right to me. Please keep it exactly as is.

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  • 178. At 7:24pm on 12 Oct 2009, squamousfresno wrote:

    The new format is better but why the reluctance to mention windspeed and direction? This information is important for e.g. bike rides, walks, picnics etc. Even if it's only "light and variable" we'd like to know!

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  • 179. At 6:23pm on 21 Oct 2009, squamousfresno wrote:

    Why are you forecasters so reluctant to give us a proper wind forecast? In the last few days I've heard the wind in all regions described - "windy" or "breezy" many times - not once have you mentioned the direction. Can't you see that this is important to people outside, especally in the countryside and especially to cyclists and walkers?

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