BBC Weather

Now for a look at the weather.

On 11th January 1954 George Cowling became the BBC's first in-vision weather presenter. In the early days the weather charts were drawn by hand with wax crayons.

By the late 60s weather symbols had been introduced, which were based on international standards, eg dots for rain, asterisk for snow, an upside-down triangle for showers etc. Seen here are Bert Foord and Peter Walker.

The BBC weather team circa 1974 - the departing Graham Parker and Bert Foord stand alongside the incoming Barbara Edwards and Michael Fish.

The familiar weather symbols were introduced on 16th August 1975. They were the creation of college student and graphic designer Mark Allen, who designed them to be more viewer-friendly. They also had a tendency to fall off the map. Barbara Edwards, Bill Giles and Michael Fish are seen here displaying the latest 70s fashions.

New recruits to the presenting team in the late 1970s included Ian McCaskill and Jim Bacon.

Bill Giles, Jim Bacon and Michael Fish presenting the weather in the early 1980s.

The magnetic symbols dropped off the map permanently on 18th February 1985, when computer-generated maps were introduced, the same day as the new BBC1 globe.

On the afternoon of 15th October 1987, Michael Fish reassured viewers that there wouldn't be a hurricane... (Though, technically, he was correct!)

One of Britain's most popular and idiosyncratic forecasters, Ian McCaskill ("Hello!"), is seen here presenting in the mid-1990s.

Bernard Davey and Michael Fish in the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, Bill Giles breaks the news of a wet Christmas in 1994.

BBC News 24 launched in 1997 - its weather maps were the same, only the colour scheme was different - orange land and dark blue sea. News 24 reverted to the more familiar blue and green style in September 1999. Also seen here in 1997 is Peter Cockroft.

The advent of digital television in 1998 meant the introduction of widescreen weather forecasts, meaning digital viewers now got to see the weather in Denmark. Helen Willetts presents here.

The weather forecast underwent a minor facelift in October 2000, which saw the introduction of beautifully detailed maps, produced from a montage of satellite photographs. Helen Young, Sarah Wilmshurst, Nina Ridge (on BBC News 24) and Alex Deakin are seen here, along with Helen Willetts presenting on Breakfast, where weather presenters are often sent out into the freezing cold to present their forecasts.

Some regional weather forecasts in London and the South East, with Michael Fish, Peter Cockroft (who became the London region's dedicated forecaster in 2002) and Kaddy Lee-Preston.

These slanted maps were used during the early 2000s on brief summaries on BBC1, and on BBC3 news programmes. They were something a foretaste of what was to come...

The longest serving weather presenter of all-time, Michael Fish, bowed out with his final national forecast on 6th October 2004 after thirty years of television broadcasts. He got out just in time, because the BBC weather forecast was soon to undergo its biggest change ever - 16th May 2005 saw a controversial new graphics package introduced, which apparently spelt the end of the famous BBC weather symbols after 30 years on air. Jo Farrow is seen here. The tilted map unsurprisingly prompted a barrage of complaints from viewers in the northern half of Britain.

As a result, the angle of the map was changed just two weeks later. Unfortunately the country still resembled a barren desert. The presenters here are Peter Gibbs and Laura Tobin.

However it wasn't long before a rebellious David Braine was spotted reinstating the symbols, but only for viewers to Spotlight, the BBC's news programme in the South West.

The famous symbols continued to be used on the BBC's weather website until disappearing in a 2008 redesign, only for them to be reinstated in the next revamp in 2011.

More regional forecasts, with a windswept Peter Cockroft in London, Michael Fish making one of his occasional return appearances in the South East and Georgie Palmer in the South.

In 2016 it was announced that MeteoGroup had won a tendering process to provide the BBC with weather forecasts, ending a 94 year relationship with the Met Office (though the BBC would continue to broadcast Met Office weather warnings). After some delays, MeteoGroup took over compilation of the television forecasts on 6th February 2018, launching new graphics which saw the return of a green, untilted map. Criticism this time around centered largely on the British Isles appearing smaller than what viewers were used to, and that the place names obscure the map, making it appear cluttered.

In June 2019, the lettering on the maps was updated with the BBC's own corporate font, Reith. Stav Danaos, Louise Lear and Darren Bett are the forecasters here.

From our YouTube channel, two videos, the first containing part of a BBC Weather forecast from Christmas Eve 1994, and then forecasts preceding and following the introduction of new graphics in October 2000, and again in May 2005. The second was recorded from the Red Button accompaniment to BBC4's TV on Trial season in 2005, and contains a forecast from the mid-90s with Ian McCaskill, the other is a contemporary one from Helen Willetts.


BBC Weather official site
BBC Weather Wikipedia entry