Seventy years ago today, with the help of charcoal and charts drawn by hand, George Cowling delivered the BBC‘s first televised weather forecast.
Having travelled to work on the Tube, he forecast rain for that chilly January day in 1954.
Since then, the nation has seen an array of forecasters deliver good and bad weather news into their homes, with the occasional hiccup along the way.
Perhaps most famously, Michael Fish told viewers in October 1987 there wouldn’t be a hurricane, hours before the worst storm since 1803 swept across Britain and claimed 18 lives.
There have also been instances of symbols not sticking on the old physical charts, fits of the giggles and technical hitches.
And, in 2012, King Charles – then the Prince of Wales – delighted viewers when he presented the weather during a visit to BBC Scotland’s headquarters.
Kirkwood was memorably pulled to the ground by a guide dog live on air and on another occasion was seen enduring the indignity of having a Labrador relieve itself behind her as she presented from a Sussex beach.
The day in 1987 that Michael Fish breezily told viewers there wouldn’t be a hurricane – hours before the worst storm since 1812 – has gone down in forecasting history
Cowling was a 33-year-old meteorologist working for the Met Office when he was given the presenting job.
His weather charts were drawn up in the offices of the Air Ministry and Cowling had to scribble on them with a wax crayon to show changes in the weather.
In a sign of the different times compared to the flamboyance of today, he later told how forecasters had to ‘behave strictly as rather staid civil servants.’
‘We had a brief to make the bulletin interesting, but not to introduce too much personality, although we tried to be amusing and chatty when we could.’
Cowling drew the weather fronts with charcoal on maps pinned on a blackboard.
The charcoal would flake off and damage the forecasters’ clothes, meaning they got an allowance to cover the cost of the damage.
Another pioneer weather man, Bert Foord, took part in the TV coverage of the Apollo 12 mission that saw astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon in 1969.
Seventy years ago today, with the help of charcoal and charts drawn by hand, George Cowling delivered the BBC ‘s first televised weather forecast. Above: Cowling giving an early forecast
In 2012, King Charles – then the Prince of Wales – delighted viewers when he presented the weather during a visit to BBC Scotland’s headquarters
Carol Kirkwood presenting from West Wittering beach in Sussex as a dog relieves itself behind her
Tomasz Schafernaker, who became a BBC weather presenter in 2000, has had several on-screen gaffes. Above: The moment he told viewers to be prepared for ‘Thor and his lightning balls’
He predicted their spacecraft would face turbulence on take off and might be struck by lightning.
Half an hour later, his forecast came true.
Jake Scott, famous for his prominent teeth – was another well-known member of the BBC forecasting team until 1983.
He introduced magnetic weather symbols in 1975. They showed the likes of rain clouds and a bright yellow sun.
Sometimes however they slipped down the chart or fell off.
In 1974, Barbara Edwards became the first female forecaster and was quickly known for her pinafore dresses.
She later recalled how she did not enjoy being in the public eye. ‘At first it’s fun when you go out shopping and people recognise you,’ she said.
‘But after a while it gets very wearing. I wanted my privacy.’
The weatherwoman left TV in 1978 and changed her hair so people would stop recognising her.
Fish, who joined the BBC television team in 1974, made his infamous 1987 blunder when rumours of a hurricane being on the way emerged.
‘Earlier on today a woman rang the BBC to say she’d heard there was a hurricane on the way. Don’t worry, there isn’t,’ he said.
Fish was among a series of forecasters who gained celebrity status.
BBC weatherman Jake Scott, famous for his prominent teeth, is seen with Barbara Edwards, the corporation’s first TV weatherwoman
In 1974, Barbara Edwards became the first female forecaster and was quickly known for her pinafore dresses
Kirkwood was memorably pulled to the ground by a guide dog live on air
His colleague Ian McCaskill featured on Spitting Image, whilst John Kettley was immortalised in the son by Tribe Of Toffs.
Speaking of his craft to mark the 40th anniversary of TV weather reports in 1994, Kettley said: ‘You have got to touch the charts, stroke them and run your hands up them. It’s sensual.’
Schafernaker, who became a BBC weather presenter in 2000, has had several on-screen gaffes.
On one occasion he was seen flipping the bird to News presenter Simon McCoy, wrongly believing he was off camera.
Another instance saw him sign off the forecast by telling viewers to be prepared for ‘Thor and his lightning balls’, before swiftly correcting himself to ‘bolts’.