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The great PM Weather Experiment.

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Eddie Mair | 17:28 UK time, Monday, 19 October 2009

pmweather.JPG...has caused quite a stir. In the Daily Mail, The Times (here and here), in The Daily Telegraph, and The Independent.

There's more information on the map you can see, at the BBC Weather Centre.

Most of all, we want to hear from YOU. This is an experiment, and it's the views of listeners which will help shape what happens next. Please tell us what you think by clicking on Comments.


  • 1. At 6:14pm on 19 Oct 2009, nevillemoray wrote:

    The use of the shipping forecast model is good, but you are not doing it thoroughly. For each area you should have a similar sequence; e.g. South-East england. Tonight rain, clearing. Temperature... Wind... Tomorrow Fine. Temp... Wind...

    and then on to the next. repeat exactly the same sequence for each region. You could put some comments at the end of each area.

    At present you are only half way to being systematic -- you still have a disorganised narrative in addition.

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  • 2. At 6:21pm on 19 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

    Don't quite get the 'form mt:asset-id="27794" class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" style="display: inline;">' bit ...

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  • 3. At 6:22pm on 19 Oct 2009, Mrs Croft wrote:

    After this evening's forecast, I feel that we are slowly slipping back to more fluffiness and opinion rather than The Weather. I, and the other members of my extended family who I have canvassed, don't need the forecast to be interesting. We would prefer the style to be as close to the Shipping Forecast as possible. Simple information and numbers in a set order. That's all.

    Thank you.

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  • 4. At 6:32pm on 19 Oct 2009, richardinskeep wrote:

    Hi, I like the new weather forcast, much easier to follow than previously. As other bloggers say it does need some 'fine tuning', but it should be addopted network wide.

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  • 5. At 6:41pm on 19 Oct 2009, Fifi wrote:

    Darn it!

    Someone told me there was a bear wandering about outside, and I missed the forecast again.

    Still not working for me, I guess.

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  • 6. At 6:52pm on 19 Oct 2009, jonnie wrote:

    Didn't really work for me and could have done without all the 'Autumnal waffle' - the shipping forecast style is the best.

    Oh! I have an idea ..

    What about having regional opt outs like television? Can't be that difficult can it especially with no pictures to worry about.

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  • 7. At 6:59pm on 19 Oct 2009, SproutGhost wrote:

    Fifi, almost the same problem here!
    A fake Autumnal waffle appeared and was gone in the twinkling of an eye.

    Seriously though, I have to agree with Mrs Croft. Simple information and numbers in a set order. That's all. does it for me as well.


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  • 8. At 7:17pm on 19 Oct 2009, Listener22 wrote:

    Thanks for the change, I hope you keep to it. I certainly prefer this new system but I also agree with the above who want even more systematic forecasts and no subjective comments.
    I'd also prefer each region to be mentioned in exactly the same order each day, none of this 'We'll start with so and so region today . . .' - what's the point of that when no one region's weather is more important than another's? - that way we'll get used to our region's order in the list and we'll be less likely to miss it looking for wandering bears!

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  • 9. At 8:19pm on 19 Oct 2009, 13roselands wrote:

    Great. Much better than previous forecasts.

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  • 10. At 9:07pm on 19 Oct 2009, quickClaireW wrote:

    I loved the experiment and the discussion it has provoked. I really liked tonight's weather style, it was clear, unhurried and err I almost remember most of it. But I do like it. I think I just need more practice at listening to it.

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  • 11. At 10:12pm on 19 Oct 2009, philipglenys wrote:

    Agree with many other comments.Firstly a general situation giving reasons for current weather pattern and if appropriate any unusual weather in past 24 hours; secondly the structured areas weather given objectively (it is up to the listener to decide whether rain is good or bad, a golfer/gardener can have conflicting views); thirdly no Fahrenheit temperatures. The weatherman needs 3 minutes as per shipping forecast but should not pad out with eg "as we head through the day". Cannot wait for all Radio 4 weather forecasts to be on PM model. So much easier to absorb than twitter.

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  • 12. At 00:03am on 20 Oct 2009, msbirdie wrote:

    Oh dear, all the to-do about the new weather forcast and STILL NO WIND MENTIONED. Is this no longer part of a weather system?
    Please lets have a complete summary.

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  • 13. At 08:29am on 20 Oct 2009, missfizz_ma wrote:

    Great - you are nearly there! We need the SAME geographical areas every time in the SAME order, to include temperature in Centigrade (forget Fahrenheit), wind speed, cloud cover, precipitation and anything else essential. Result: no waffle and no more cries of "They've forgotten to mention us AGAIN!".

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  • 14. At 09:18am on 20 Oct 2009, nstrudwick wrote:

    It certainly is better, by following a set order of regions. The issue in the past has always been that the weatherman seems to have assumed we can see the map from which he is working.

    But there is still too much waffle, too many words. Something more like a gentler version of the shipping forecast with a formal set of parameters would be much more preferable, so that the region one seeks is not lost in the chatty style of presentation.

    The problem seems to be that the weather forecasters want to be "personalities" and thus can't resist waffling, whereas they should really be more like announcers. The cult of celebrity seems to affect everyone!

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  • 15. At 10:03am on 20 Oct 2009, Poverty wrote:

    Yes, better last night as every area was mentioned by name before its forecast. I don't mind the continuing tendency to waffle, so long as it's clear as to which area it's about. 8/10 for this one.

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  • 16. At 12:26pm on 20 Oct 2009, maxinetranter wrote:

    I agree with most of the above comments. Previously, although I religiously 'listened' to the forecast, I only seemed to remember what was happening in Scotland, which wasn't much use to me in the Midlands! I think the 'old-style' of forecast was cluttered with too many words, particularly of the 'if you're going out I should take your umbrella with you' variety. The presenter also seemed to think we needed a narrative of weather fronts and their journeys across the British Isles, but, apart from when there's a hurricane headed our way, most of us just want the facts for where we live, shipping forecast-style, so we know that when 'The Midlands' is announced in an unhurried, important way, we LISTEN! We don't want the forecast to be entertaining, we just want the facts (kept to a minimum lest we should start to drift off again...).

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  • 17. At 12:47pm on 20 Oct 2009, MrCJRichards wrote:

    Well done, Peter Gibbs and team! As both an amateur and former forecaster myself, I'm delighted by the return of a structured forecast, which I recall was last heard as long ago as the 1960's and 70's?? The "arm-waving" TV approach simply does not transfer to radio, because of the lack of visual cues.

    This more precise, objective style gives "Mr/Mrs Jones" down the road more chance of understanding what weather to expect in their village that day. It should also help less experienced weather forecaster/broadcasters by giving them a "template" with which to desribe the UK's weather. Sadly, the absence of this has often not helped Mr/Mrs Jones in "Anyshire" decide whether, for instance, to leave the brolly behind in the morning, or just in the afternoon!

    Could forecasters also be given a guaranteed minimum time in which to deliver their forecast, and not have to compete with that "new" prog trailer? Many a winter morning past have Mr/Mrs Jones been left wondering if it was going to snow, rain, or just stay dry in their shire because of that "urgent" trailer which cut the forecast to less than 40 seconds that frosty morning!

    One final plea: emergency weather phone numbers, eg relating to possible flooding, are unarguably important to many, but could they be given out, say, during the following news bulletin? The forecaster's time allocation is limited after all. Besides Mr/Mrs Jones live half way up a hill!

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  • 18. At 12:49pm on 20 Oct 2009, Sarahbuttercup wrote:

    I think the new style of forecast is much better - at least, now you know when to prick up your ears, and there is less waffle which used to obscure the content. I liked the more factual shipping-forecast style, but, for now, please keep it like it is at present.

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  • 19. At 1:09pm on 20 Oct 2009, NikkiFB wrote:

    The new Shipping Forecast style for the weather is excellent. It's much clearer and less confusing than the older, broader narrative style and allows me to concentrate on what I actually need rather than become tangled up with the unnecessary. Please keep this format.

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  • 20. At 1:53pm on 20 Oct 2009, Hawk wrote:

    Heard the best weather forecast yet at 7.35am on the Today programme, "The weather, wet and windy in the west, drier in the east." Perfect, that's all I want to know, no babble or waffling, just direct to the point.
    Keep it up Today ;)

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  • 21. At 4:35pm on 20 Oct 2009, friendlyrobbie10 wrote:

    Agree entirely with nevillemoray's comments yesterday. New format is much better but needs a bit more polish. It's interesting to compare it with the forecasts at earlier in the day which are a bit chaotic.

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  • 22. At 4:52pm on 20 Oct 2009, pyeater wrote:

    I am glad there is a move to improve R4 weather forecasts at last. There has been a steady deterioration over the last few years, which I say as a listener since the days of the Home Service. The change towards the more logical style of the shipping forecast is to be welcomed, though I think the regions do not necessarily have to follow in the same order every day; it would be appropriate if they were given in line with the direction that the weather is taking; eg: north to south, or west to east.

    Being so old, I can remember some of the format of past years' forecasts, with a general situation summary followed by a more detailed regional forecast. This was dropped with the advent of BBC local radio, which it was felt could do this job better. Local stations do provide a better forecast for local areas, but it is not practical to expect R4 listeners to switch stations for the forecast and then back again. So good, comprehensive forecasts are needed on R4, and I hope we are now on our way to getting them.

    I agree wholeheartedly with listners who have commented that the weather forecast should not be squeezed into less than a minute only to be followed by a programme trail; these should be accomodated elsewhere in the schedule - how about AFTER the news bulletin?

    Well done PM for taking this initiative.

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  • 23. At 5:14pm on 20 Oct 2009, Bruce Mills wrote:

    If I read yet another suggestion to drop and 'forget fahrenheit' within the weather forecast, I'll be encouraged to vote BNP at the next election !

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  • 24. At 5:39pm on 20 Oct 2009, amazingrevtone wrote:

    Brilliant - a hugh improvement - let's have more of it!

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  • 25. At 5:48pm on 20 Oct 2009, newforesttony wrote:

    The biggest surprise must be that the benefits of the 'shipping forecast' format come as a surprise. That format had to develop to ensure the maximum clarity of information for those who really needed it, out at sea and in poor listening conditions.

    I am old enough to remember the days of a forecast having been written, and given by the measured (not panicked into 40 seconds) tones of a BBC announcer. Ah! Those were they days!

    Only one small complaint: in the good old days we has 'central southern england' as a separate region, but on balance, well done PM. Where you lead, may others follow.

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  • 26. At 6:03pm on 20 Oct 2009, Anne P. wrote:

    PLEASE pay attention to all the requests for the forecast areas to be covered in a standard order each evening even if that's not the direction the weather is moving in. Again I nearly missed the Midlands because it was tucked in at the end. I've noticed that twice we've gone up the east coast and then moved west, but not I think consistently. The whole point of the Shipping Forecast request was to be able to know in advance when to listen out. It's nearly there.

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  • 27. At 6:07pm on 20 Oct 2009, alphabigrob wrote:

    I thought that it was very good this evening - ordered, clearly enunciated and, above all, not rushed. All in all a great initiative.

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  • 28. At 6:53pm on 20 Oct 2009, Irvinblogger wrote:

    Tonights weather nearly drove me mad. When are you going to drop saying Fahrenheit every so often and celsius after every temperature. Drop the F word and you will then not have to say celsius at all.

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  • 29. At 7:00pm on 20 Oct 2009, Jem wrote:

    Some time in the late seventies I wrote to the BBC pointing out that weather presenters had apparently forgotten that the function of weather forecasts was to impart information. It seems to me that producers and presenters of all sorts of radio and TV programmes often lose sight of this, hence the deluge of intrusive music, contrived body language, ridiculously inappropriate and odd intonation and inflections that we all hate.

    I pointed out that try as I might, I was often unable to derive the very information the forecaster purported to be attempting to impart. I received in reply a really rather rude letter from a senior forecaster saying more or less "How dare you imply that our service is less than perfect?". I have it still somewhere. The attitude seems to have persisted

    Let's hope that they get the message for a least a year or two, that we simply need clear, unembellished, logically delivered summaries for each area in turn. No "spits and spots," no motives attributed to weather fronts, no assumptions about what constitutes good weather, and no silly metaphors.

    The experiment is a success

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  • 30. At 7:41pm on 20 Oct 2009, IanofNorfolk wrote:

    I like the new format - it is clearer. Please do not discontinue this format.

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  • 31. At 8:31pm on 20 Oct 2009, Bruce Mills wrote:

    Irvinblogger(28) wrote : "Tonights weather nearly drove me mad.When are you going to drop saying Fahrenheit every so often and celsius after every temperature. Drop the F word and you will then not have to say celsius at all."
    Right ! That does it. I'll be voting BNP at the next election. Old Nick, I feel sure, will not up be for having this modern claptrap of Celsius in his manifesto (I wonder if anyone will bring it up on QT ?). :-)
    Until my generation of 'old gits' pass on, would these young tyros lay off banging on about Celsius and the rest of the metric system. Most of us just don't 'get it'( in actuality, as an engineer, I've had to work with it for long enough. But I still THINK in old english measure first - and 'Fahrenheit' of course ). Furthermore, I would imagine most of our R4 forecasters do also.

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