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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Lord Prescott to read Radio 4 Shipping Forecast to support Red Nose Day

He used to listen to it as a seaman. Now 50 years on, Lord Prescott is going to read the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio 4 to raise money for Red Nose Day – after a joke on Twitter.

After Sailing By ends, Lord Prescott will read the "late ships" report on the weather and conditions of the waters around the British Isles on Saturday 19 March 2011 at 00.48am.

This will be the first time anyone other than a BBC continuity announcer has ever read the "late ships". Lord Prescott will read the main part of the bulletin, which gives the forecast for the 31 sea areas, in a clockwise pattern, from "Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire" to "Fair Isle, Faeroes, South East Iceland". The Radio 4 announcer will then take over to give the inshore waters and coastal stations reports.

This year Red Nose Day is helping to raise money to help treat people who suffer from eating disorders, a cause close to Lord Prescott's heart as someone who's previously lived with bulimia. People can pledge by going to

The Shipping Forecast has for many decades been a source of vital safety information for maritime navigators, as well as a much loved moment in the schedule for many listeners who never put to sea. The bulletin will be pre-recorded shortly before transmission and follow its strict formula - delivered with careful enunciation at a measured pace to enable listeners, who may be in rough seas, to hear every word and take notes.

He was invited to do it by BBC continuity announcer Alice Arnold, who is one of many who read the Shipping Forecast, after joking about it on Twitter.

Alice says: "I saw a tweet from John saying that he was doing an interview for Radio 4's The World Tonight show and he might as well stay on to do the Shipping Forecast. As I was reading it that night I tweeted he was welcome to do it so I could go home early! He then started tweeting the Shipping Forecast to me!"

The tweet Lord Prescott sent was: "@alicearnold1 *clears throat* Humber. Wind Northeast 4 or 5, occasionally 6. Sea State. Moderate. Weather. Showers.Visibility. Good."

Alice adds: "I asked him if he'd like to do it for real and he said he'd only do it for Comic Relief so we did our best at Radio 4 to make it happen.

"We're absolutely thrilled that John's prepared to do this and it's extraordinary how a little joke on Twitter has now come to something real to raise awareness and money for Comic Relief."

Lord Prescott added: "I've always been fascinated by the Shipping Forecast ever since I was a waiter on the liners. I used to sit in my bunk listening to it on the wireless. It has such a metronomic quality, like the rhythm of the sea. It feels like a poem.

"It's a real honour to be given the chance to read it and even better that it's for Red Nose Day, which is raising money for worthy causes at home and in Africa.

"For example just £1 could pay for a young person in the UK struggling with an eating disorder to get the vital support and information they need online from a specially trained support worker.

"I'm really looking forward to reading the Shipping Forecast but you can expect me to dwell on the report for Humber. Or to give its correct pronunciation: 'umber!"

Notes to Editors

Comic Relief currently funds the following eating disorder charities: Dipex, Eating Disorders Association (known as beat) and Artlink West Yorkshire.


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