Another storm the Met Office never saw coming

Author: Ben Kench

The Met Office has lost its contract with the BBC. The BBC says the contract didn’t represent value for taxpayers money. The Met Office are zealously defending their reputation, claiming the contract was lost over rows about dumbing down i.e. the BBC wanted things dumb, and the Met Office were too high minded to play ball.

The hardcore pedants are out in force, decrying ‘dumbing down,’ pointing to falling education standards and acting like a change in windsock operator marks the beginning of the end of civilisation. The MP for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw is indignant: “It seems to me that the BBC wants to dumb down its weather forecasting. The weather is a national obsession and we shouldn’t assume that people want simplistic updates.”

Until the 9 o’clock news finishes with, “when the big hand is on four, and the little hand on three, lots and lots of little bits of water will fall out of the sky,” I’m fine with simple updates. Saying ‘patchy rain’ instead of ‘isolated showers,’ just seems an accurate, economical use of the English language to me.

Isobars? High or low pressure? Get to the point, do I need to wear jeans or shorts?

Boring weather reports could be replaced by Michael Fish walking along the bottom of our screens, suitably attired for the next day. Yay! He’s got a hankie knotted on his head! Oh no, he’s got a Kagool on. If it’s scattered showers, he could pop his hood on and off as he struts along in front of Eastenders. Now that would be accessible. Proper down with the kids.

But would reducing Michael Fish’s slot to twenty seconds of mime-artistry mean that we are, as a nation, dumbing down? Are the BBC responsible for falling standards?

Not for me. I love the English language, of course I do, I’m a writer. But I love communication more: if you can get the whole point across in less time, why wouldn’t you?

Moaning about the weather is one thing but if you’ve got time to moan about the weather report that’s quite another, you need to find a fun hobby.

And if you find yourself moaning about moaning about the weather report… give yourself a slap. Gotta go, I’ve got a book to write. LOLZ. CU L8R.

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