Caring about the weather itself - boring stuff like global warming and will the corn ripen - has seemed curiously old-fashioned since the mid-Eighties, thanks to TV-am. Out went old, grey meteorology, in came lots of bright new accessories: smiling yellow suns and smiling blonde secretaries. Remember Wincey Willis and Carole Dooley? No? Well, how about Georgina Spanswick who announced, when she was appointed in 1988: 'I think I am pretty good at guessing the weather'?
Queen of the TV-am weather girls was Ulrika Jonsson. No, she didn't know what an isobar was but her shorthand was 130wpm and she'd been on a double date with Prince Edward. Within a few weeks she was a national obsession: did her accidental double entendres have anything to do with the fact that the Swedish for 'lucky career break' is 'slip on a banana skin'? Why were her parents' names Bo and Gun?
Then, at the height of her fame, she left to present Gladiators. 'I've left the weather behind me,' she declared, 'but it's not something I'm ashamed of.' (I only wish I could say the same about our weather.)
The nation grieved, consoling itself with a host of wannabes. We reeled when Trish Williamson 'nearly married' a man called Paul Taylor who wasn't after all - Nigel Dempster revealed at the eleventh hour - an Oxford-educated millionaire. We grieved when Tania Bryer called off her engagement to an Italian count.
And we thrilled when Sian Lloyd won the Prix des Presentateurs at the International TV Weather Forecasters Festival in France, having shot to fame by accidentally spitting her chewing gum on to Wales during a live broadcast. Now her handprint has been left for posterity on the 'Weather Boulevard' in Paris. 'They take account of the way you look, clarity of voice, hand movements, confidence factor,' Sian revealed, 'and your ability to deliver information about the weather.'
What I want to know is - where are the Weatherboys? The BBC, ever aware of ITV's superior ratings, has gradually been trying to sex up its weather forecasting. Anticyclones have become 'highs', precipitation has made way for 'snow' or 'rain' - or, rather, a 70 per cent risk of rain. Pollution levels and pollen warnings are now routine, along with swarms of moving arrows and black rain clouds rolling in from the West. But it's high time we had some Weatherboys.
1) First of all, get back the original Weatherboy and Heathcliffe- lookalike, Francis 'Fluffy Bits' Wilson, however much he costs. Tell him to stop saying things like, 'the telly is terribly artificial' and get back to brooding on the Beeb. Sure, you'll have to pay him more than the Met Office's civil service rates. Believe me, it's worth it for the sex appeal factor.
2) Junk the present theme tune for 'It's Raining Men' by the wild American girl group, the Weathergirls.
3) Build on your talent base. Come on up, Michael (Mike? Mikey?) Fish. Yes, he's been part of the furniture since 1974. Sure, he lost his nerve after the 'there will be no hurricane' debacle of October 1987. Yes, he was once voted Worst Dressed Man of the Year. But remember: he's a wow on the after-dinner circuit. And he's still got his figure. Ulrika has got Grattans catalogue sewn up; I hear there's an opening at Damart.
4) Ian McCaskill: the Spitting Image puppet is good, but who on earth leaked the news that he forecasts in his socks? Try and arrange a sponsorship deal with Nike.
5) Vague royal connections are essential: can Bill Giles be spotted in San Lorenzo with Major James Hewitt?
6) A record titled 'John Kettley (is a Weatherman)' by the Tribe of Toffs, which reached number 21 in the charts in 1988, does not a rock god make. His only hope is losing the beard and arranging a Daily Mail exclusive on the new look. I know it's undignified, but then Ulrika Jonsson had to pretend to have dandruff for the Head and Shoulders advertisement.
7) Buy in a Gladiator. They took Ulrika; it's only fair that we should get Wolf, the official housewives' choice. And there is only so much beating with a giant plastic hammer that a man can take.
Will it snow this Christmas? Who cares?
Miles Kington is on holiday.Reuse content