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Saturday, 16 January 2016


I have been doing a bit of weather forecasting or rather weather presenter forecasting and I predict that in the not-too-distant future, we will witness the death of the weather presenter on TV.  It is already evident to this viewer that the role is redundant in this advanced age of gizmos and gadgets and that time is up for this gesticulating, pontificating, pointless job. But first, the news.

I am fed up with television news, not just some of the content and analysis but the length of time it takes to report even the simplest of news items because there is so much time to fill.  The reporter is seen in a filmed report and that is followed by the same reporter live from the same location going over it all again. This is followed by an expert in the studio dissecting what we have just seen and heard twice, and on and on it goes until our eyes glaze over, our ears bleed and apathy numbs us to what was at the core of the story in the first place. Somewhere within all the blether, blah and bleugh, there are a few simple facts gasping for breath. But, that's news as we now know it.

My real wrath is with weather and weather presenters. I am a simple man born in simpler technological times when weather people on TV would apply stickers of clouds (black or white depending on the sky's mood), sunshine, raindrops, snowflakes and lightning onto a simple map of the UK. The presenters in the late 1950s and early 1960s were qualified meteorologists who knew their stuff and, importantly, weather slots after news bulletins were brief and to the point.

It occurred to me a while ago when watching (for reasons I cannot explain) BBC's Countryfile, a kind of Sunday version of the mish-mash One Show. Within the Countryfile format, there is a weather section that seems to go on forever with the presenter, generally dressed down to look like a young farmer, delivering a kind of primary school teacher lesson on whether it will be wet, dry or blowy in the next week or so. These must be the longest weather slots on TV with a greater sleep-inducing effect that Horlicks.

After every national news bulletin, we have national weather and then local news followed by local weather. Rolling news channels have scheduled weather reports during every hour and we have moved on from still photographs of maps to graphics and swirling land masses to make us giddy, dizzy, gullible and, ultimately, gormless as we succumb to the 'don't forget your brolly', 'wrap up warm', 'remember your snow shovel' and 'run for your lives because climate change has taken us to the abyss yet again because it's the coldest Tuesday since the last one' school of weather education.

Recently, I was reading about the weather data industry. I had no idea there was such a thing but then I'm not surprised by anything anymore, especially the financial gain that can be made from anything you care to mention. Years ago, when garages started to charge customers for putting air in their tyres, I thought, this is only the beginning. I know the charge is more about the equipment than the air, but there was a warning in there somewhere.

I read that IBM bought the US's Weather Company for $2bn and all over the world, whatever the company, there is a demand for more detailed weather forecasts and greater accuracy. France has the Meteogroup, the UK has the Met Office, Geneva is home to The World Meteorological Organisation and Japan has its Meteorological Agency - all in the business, the lucrative business, of tracking, analysing and predicting weather patterns globally and specifically to regions. If you marry this enormous amount of never-ending information with the aforementioned gadgets, gizmos and apps, we can find out about 'our' weather any second of any day.

We don't need to wait for the scheduled weather presentations on TV. We don't need weather presenters anymore. And, my Sunday dread, Countryfile, would be ten minutes shorter.

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