History of the BBC

History of the BBC

BBC Television Weather at 60 – A Celebration

11 January 1954 was the moment the BBC Television Service launched its television weather forecasting service – where the forecaster could be seen! Pre-war BBC television had attempted weather forecasts, with simple hand drawn maps and symbols, but to many these were more akin to radio with pictures, resembling little of what we understand TV weather forecasting to be in the 21st century. From the first known TV weather forecasts kept at BBC Archives, to key BBC weather forecasters telling their stories, explore 60 years of forecasting on BBC TV.

 

 

John Craven on BBC TV Weather

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John Craven looks back over 60 years of weather on BBC TV, and speaks with veteran forecasters about just how different TV forecasts were in the early years. Sadly George Cowling died in 2009 and Jack Scott in 2008.

 

 

Earliest known TV weather forecast held at BBC Archives. A test, recorded 27 August, 1956

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In the summer of 1956, executives at the BBC Television Service began an extensive review of the visual appeal and style of the channel. They analysed the quality of the announcing and promotion of programmes, and channel identity. As weather forecasting came under the control of the BBC’s Presentation Department, the manner and effectiveness of forecasters also came under the spotlight. In this rare footage, the earliest known recording at BBC Archives of a BBC TV in-vision weather forecast, the forecaster attempts a natural and relaxed forecasting style, with mixed success.

 

 

Earliest known broadcast TV weather forecast held at BBC Archives. Broadcast live, 10 June, 1959

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Here, BBC Television Service (Scotland) newsreader Henry Gray announces the weather, out of vision. The footage is the first known recording of a broadcast TV weather bulletin at BBC Archives. It would have followed the in-vision national weather broadcast from London. A few silent frames of this can be seen before the Scottish weather starts.

 

 

The first 25 years

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On 9 January 1979, the current affairs programme Nationwide sent presenter Bob Wellings to the roof of BBC Television Centre, to meet all the BBC TV weather forecasters. They had come together for their Silver Jubilee reunion. Here they recall the sometimes hair raising moments of live TV weather forecasting. This is the only televised moment where all BBC TV weather forecasters up to that point were seen together. There were 25 forecasters present, a mixture of retired staff and those still on air, an apt number given the anniversary.

 

 

Michael Fish - A life in Weather Forecasting

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Michael Fish, one of the BBC’s longest serving weather forecasters remembers the high and lows of his career, including his legendary great storm of 1987 broadcast.

 

 

Barbara Edwards - The BBC’s first women weather forecaster

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Barbara Edwards started giving the weather forecast on BBC Radio in 1970, moving into continuity announcing on BBC Radio 4 in 1972. It was back to weather forecasting in 1974, but this time for television, a first for UK broadcasting. Here she recalls the obstacles of being a woman in a male dominated environment, and recalls comments from viewers, mainly concerned with what she wore, rather than what she said. The Interviewer is Jenni Mills.

 

 

When TV Weather was 50

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For many years, in addition to weather broadcasts, the BBC made its own programme dedicated to everything you wanted to know about the weather. It was called The Weather Show. In this edition, the 50th anniversary of TV weather is being celebrated.

 

 

The familiar face of BBC TV Weather

Pre war TV weather chart

Pre war TV weather chart

 

Weather chart as seen in 1949

Weather chart as seen in 1949

 

George Cowling in 1954

Forecaster George Cowling seen in 1954

 

TH Clifton in 1954

Forecaster TH Clifton as seen in 1954

 

Bill Bruce in 1959

Forecaster Bill Bruce as seen in 1959

 

Weather Presentation Studio A 1960

Weather Presentation Studio A 1960

 

Jack Armstrong in 1963

Forecaster Jack Armstrong as seen in 1963

 

Bert Foord in 1969

Forecaster Bert Foord as seen in 1969

 

Jack Scott in colour in 1969

Forecaster Jack Scott as seen in colour in 1969

 

Graham Parker in 1970

Forecaster Graham Parker as seen in 1970

 

Michael Fish in 1973

A younger Michael Fish as seen in 1973

 

Bill Giles in 1975

A younger Bill Giles as seen in 1975

 

Ceefax weather map in 1974

Early Ceefax weather map as seen in 1974

 

Weather map in 1975

How the weather map looked in 1975

 

Barbara Edwards in 1975

Barbara Edwards as seen in 1975

 

Ian McCaskill in 1978

Forecaster Ian McCaskill as seen in 1978

 

1979 weather map

By 1979 the weather map looked like this

 

Anne Purvis in 1981

Forecaster Anne Purvis as seen in 1981

 

David Lee in the 1990s

David Lee in the 1990s

 

Helen Young in the 1990s

Helen Young in the 1990s

 

Isobel Lang in the 1990s

Isobel Lang in the 1990s

 

John Kettley in the 1990s

John Kettley in the 1990s

 

Peter Cockroft in the 1990s

Peter Cockroft in the 1990s

 

Rob McElwee in the 1990s

Rob McElwee in the 1990s

 

Bill Giles in the 1990s

Bill Giles in the 1990s

 

David Braine in the 1990s

David Braine in the 1990s

 

Carol Kirkwood as seen in 2002

Forecaster Carol Kirkwood as seen in 2002

 

BBC Weather Map 2005

BBC Weather Map 2005

 

BBC News Weather 2006

BBC News Weather 2006

 

 

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