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Summer Sun

60th anniversary of the first BBC TV weather bulletin

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The 60th anniversary of the first BBC TV weather bulletin is being marked.


Forecaster Phil Avery looks at how weather chart technology has changed.




The BBC weather centre is celebrating 60 years since the first television weatherman appeared on a UK screen. The public may have a love-hate relationship with the weather, but the men and women who predicted it have generally enjoyed a warmer reception. For decades they were some of the best-known people in Britain - on air at peak time every evening, watched by millions of viewers, their dress sense and mannerisms the subject of fascinated comment in the press. Forecasters were rarely subject to the kind of obsessive interest the British reserve for the weather itself, but they were talked about, written to and considered old friends. Much of that probably had to do with the late George Cowling, a tall and distinguished looking cove who gave the first televised weather broadcast on 11 January 1954. Then there was Bert Foord, a dapper figure who was the BBC's most popular weatherman until he left in 1973.


Things haven't always gone without a hitch. The most recent major overhaul took place in 2005, when the old maps and weather symbols were pensioned off and a new 3D image of the country introduced with animated graphics based on high-end computer games. It provoked uproar, and a deluge of some 16,000 emails. Some viewers complained of motion sickness. Some objected to the brown colour of the land. But most complained that, because the image curved away from the viewer to mimic the curvature of the earth, Scotland was made to look much smaller than it really is in relation to England.


The design was tweaked, but not abandoned, and has been constantly updated since. The most recent change came just last month, when the system started displaying the weather at a much higher resolution. But don't rule out a more radical change in the near future - the contract with the firm that supplies the current system is up for renewal. So, with all this clever technology, have the forecasts actually got better? Darren Bett, one of the current team, maintains they have: "It's been shown that today's four-day forecast is more accurate than the one-day forecast of 30 years ago."




Sixty years of BBC Weather presenting



Edited by Summer Sun

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well worth watching as it does explain pretty well the sequence of events on how the TV forecaster at the various news broadcasts has arrived at the forecast, it might dispel some of the myths that develop on here about what some folk think occurs.

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