Weather on show - BBC Countryfile

Weather on show

18 July 2012

From four-part TV specials to all kinds of books, Met Office expertise supports a wide range of media projects.

Our burning national obsession with the weather has made it the star of countless TV and radio shows, not to mention books and websites. To help make sure these are accurate, as well as entertaining, media creatives frequently turn to Met Office scientists for their expertise. Recent months have been no exception, as Met Office Communications Manager Dave Britton explains:

"People might be surprised at just how much we do behind the scenes - helping to make sure that TV programmes, books and other projects are researched and underpinned by the Met Office's world-leading science. 'Global Weirding', the BBC Horizon programme on extreme weather screened in April, is a great example of this in action."

'Global Weirding' producers first contacted the Met Office in late 2011 to understand more about the facts of what appeared to be more frequent, unusual weather events such as violent storms and floods. They also wanted to learn if the views of Met Office scientists matched up with those of other weather organisations around the world.

Showcasing science

Weather on show - Dr Adam Scaife of the Met Office Hadley Centre on Horizon: Global Weirding

Once the proposed programme had begun to take shape, Dave's team put the producers in touch with Met Office scientist Dr Adam Scaife and Met Office forecaster Helen Chivers.

They then worked with the production team to take the idea further - showcasing some of the Met Office's best science and adding additional interest and creativity.

This included exploring aspects of winter and summer climate and the ways it's influenced by the annual changes in Arctic sea ice. The programme also enabled the Met Office to show how it helps countries understand the impact of extreme weather and plan for emergencies.

"'Great British Weather', a four-part BBC series covering rain, storms, wind and sunshine from all over the UK, is another project that involved us early in pre-production," says Dave Britton. "Over nine months, we worked closely with the producers on story and script development, fact checking, and also got involved with the interactive side of the programme. Presenting alongside Alexander Armstrong and Chris Hollins, our very own Carol Kirkwood was one of the hosts."

The series' live, interactive dimension proved a great opportunity for the Met Office - processing observation data and pictures sent in by viewers in the studio, and contributing to the programme's Twitter feed. Staff at the BBC Weather Centre and Met Office Media also took part.

Weather on show - Kate Humble with Met Office Chief Meteorologist, Ewen McCallum

But while some TV programmes are many months or even longer in the making, others are fast turn round in response to more immediate weather issues. The BBC's 'Will It Snow?' was one such show, broadcast in November 2011. This saw wildlife and science presenter Kate Humble interview the Met Office and other weather organisations about the likelihood of another harsh winter following the extreme conditions of the previous two years.

"At the time there was a lot of media hysteria about the possibility of 'snow Armageddon'," says Dave Britton, "so we were delighted to be able to work with the programme as the national weather organisation and inject a sense of realism into the debate. And it was another great chance for us to put our science to good use and celebrate the work we do."

All things weather

But while contributing to TV programmes is especially high profile, other Met Office media projects are every bit as important for sharing our vast wealth of knowledge and expertise.

Weather on show - Eyewitness Guide: The Weather

Dorling Kindersley's 'Eyewitness Guide: The Weather' - authored in association with Met Office staff - James May's 'ManLab', and climate change content for 'The Times Atlas of the World' are just some of the books which maintain the Met Office's reputation as the UK source for all things weather.



Great British Weather
Love Productions for BBC One (2011)

Bang Goes the Theory
Winter Special
BBC One (2011)

Will it Snow?
BBC Two (2011)

Horizon: Global Weirding
BBC Two (2012)

Horizon: What is One Degree?
BBC Two (2011)

Drought: Inside Out
BBC One - English Regions (2012)

Orbit: Earth's Amazing Journey
BBC Two (this is the 23 degrees blog ) (2012)




Weather on show - The volcano that stopped the world

The Volcano That Stopped The World
Pioneer Productions for Channel 4 (2010)

The Year Britain Froze
Pioneer Productions for Channel 4 (2011)

Britain's Big Freeze
Pioneer Productions for Channel 4 (2010)

Floods - The Year Britain Went Under
Pioneer Productions for Channel 4 (2007)

Snowstorm: Britain's Big Freeze
Pioneer Productions for Channel 4 (2009)



Eyewitness Guide: The Weather
(Dorling Kindersley)

Extraordinary Clouds
(David & Charles)

The Cloud Book
(David & Charles)

The Times Atlas of the World
(contribution to spread on climate change)

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In brief