Media: A Moment with Marquis

The weather is getting worse. Have you noticed? I don't mean rainier or colder or globally warmer. I mean the weather forecast. It is regressing. It is turning into Play School.

Am I alone in despising the infantile patter that comes with and effectively drowns out the basic weather facts for the day ahead?

It's no longer enough for us to know that it might rain. We are told that "an umbrella might come in handy - and maybe even a mac". Well, bugger me - there's a thought. Thank you Helen Willetts, it would never have occurred to me to take an umbrella while it's hosing down outside. "There will be thick fog in the Vale of York - take extra care if you're out and about in the car." Thank you, thank you. I would have driven like a crazed fool at 90mph through impenetrable pea soup had it not been for your kindly advice.

Weather presenters have developed a lingo of their own. Now every shower is "sharp". I can understand a vicious downpour of razor-edged hailstones being called sharp, but not a tepid squall in August, a light sprinkle in April.

As if all this extraneous trilling and warbling isn't distracting enough, the Met Office has just instructed its weather bimbos to make the forecasts more positive, more optimistic. So instead of "there will be thunder in East Anglia", they'll say "it will be sunny and dry pretty well everywhere", or we will be informed that "it will be calm and breezy for most" instead of "there will be hurricane-force winds in Shetland".

We're British, for God's sake. We like our weather forecasts bleak and depressing so that in the unlikely event of it being even marginally less grim, we can say things like: "Turned out nice after all, I see."

If you're in any doubt about TV dumbing down (they don't mess with all this touchy-feely twaddle on radio), the weather forecasts are living proof. Carole Kirkwood, a nice enough Scotswoman habitually decked out in pink, floral macs and multicoloured scarves like a toddler, is not even allowed to present the weather from a studio. She is plonked in the Blue Peter garden (a glum, run-down allotment of a place), presumably because we are too dim to understand that she is going to talk about the weather without us actually seeing some.

I give up. Back to the hard-nosed poetry of the shipping forecast: Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Helen Willetts is far too trite. Hebrides and Finisterre, get that woman off the air!


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