Sian has recently launched her very own weather web site – one of the cleanest, brightest and simplest sites for finding out what the weather is doing in your area. You can find it here: http://tvweathergirl.com/. Take a look.
Sian agreed to talk to us about how she got into television.
“Like most things in my life, I fell into weather presenting. Mind you, it’s probably the best move I ever made.
And if some folk regard my shift from serious newsroom journo to weather girlie as a move from a higher to a lower level, then they are mistaken. My twenty year stint on the Weather has included the introduction of the concept of climate change and the shattering of weather records worldwide. When I first started presenting the Weather, we used to follow the News. Now we make the News headlines.
I have always been a bit of a news junkie and after leaving Jesus College Oxford ( I failed to tune in to the joys of research and never completed my B Lit ), I was set on a highbrow journalistic path. I was taken on as a researcher at Cardiff Broadcasting Company, the local ILR station, and then moved to Television, becoming a researcher for the nightly news programme Wales Today. All this was great experience, but not terribly testing. I worked for a couple of years as a presenter for Channel 4 in Wales, S4C, and then moved to London.
There followed a period working for the news agency, Worldwide Television News. I more or less had a freehand. I produced and presented packages for TV clients throughout the world. One day I might be doing an item on the threatened closure of London Zoo, the next a piece on a successful West End show. It was the late eighties and I was having a ball!
One day I was approached by the Met Office. They were after a promotional film on exceptional weather – hurricanes, water spouts, snow storms et al. I set to work on it with gusto, liked the people involved and, at the end of that period, found myself being dragged screaming and kicking to a studio to screen test for the ITV National Weather!
And that was how I got into the wonderful world of Weather. I was in the right place at the right time. Though, obviously, I did have on screen and journalistic experience. I also had a very good degree.
To be honest this typifies the whole of my media career. I have never been ambitious in the slightest, never had an overwhelming desire to be a “presenter” and have always gone with the flow. Some might say it’s a weakness. I kind of regard it as a strength.
Surprisingly, I didn’t receive any training before being thrust in front of the great British public. Things are very different nowadays. Looking back, I wore some pretty funky clothes that didn’t quite suit popping up post Sir Trev on the Ten o’clock. I was particularly proud of one expensive outfit from Joseph. Magnificent in real life, but on the Weather, I looked like a supermarket check-out girl. I quickly learned what worked and what didn’t, to the extent that for years I have had a TV wardrobe and a real life one.
After about a year or so, I insisted on getting qualifications. I could see that things were hotting up on the climate front, and besides I wanted to know about occluded fronts and the Fohn Effect! For about eighteen months, I did day release at the Met Office College, then in Shinfield now in Exeter, culminating in a couple of days of exams. I swotted like mad, got a distinction, and to this day remain proud of my Met Office certificate, probably more so than my first class honours or even my climbing Kilimanjaro one!
And here I am, twenty years on, launching my own weather website, still pointing at clouds on ITV and still loving the job.
I’m sometimes asked what I put my longevity down to. Frankly, I have no idea. But I would venture to suggest that being a team member is VITAL in TV. As is good timekeeping and a lack of a big ego. In my experience the most successful people are the most down to earth. Throughout the years I’ve worked with some very big names, from Tom Jones and Sir David Frost to Ant & Dec and Catherine Jenkins. They have all been pleasant and professional and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their company.
And they are all survivors. I guess I could be called that by now. There is no doubt that ageism is prevalent in TV, way more so than in society at large. As for me, I intend fighting fire with fire and working till I drop. I shall be happy when they start calling Michael Fish a Weather Boy and when they dare put a female with as big a belly as Bill Giles on the National Weather!
In the meantime, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and tongue firmly in cheek, I’m launching my own tvweathergirl.com. I got a bit fed up of the palaver of getting a fast and simple forecast for my area, so devised my own website. It’s the quickest, cleanest and most user friendly one around. You just type in your locality and voila!
It’s also got reams of my TV stuff on it, but not alas the famous incident of spitting out the chewing gum! It remains my most triumphant moment in my twenty year career. I actually got caught live on the ITV lunchtime news vigorously chewing gum. What was a girl to do? It had to go and so I spat it out. Curiously, it landed bang in the middle of the map and remained there throughout the two minute forecast. Happy days…..
Mind you, it taught me a lifetime lesson in being prepared in a live situation. And Wrigley’s also asked me to do a TV ad.
In the meantime, on tvweathergirl.com you have to make do with my Churchill ad, probably one of the most suggestive ads ever seen on British television. I shall never forget the afternoon spent on a housing estate near Heathrow feeding sausages to an invisible dog. When I ventured to the highly respected director that it must look semi-pornographic, he replied that there was nothing semi about it…..!!!
Anyway, the ads, the big TV shows, from I’m a Celeb to Total Wipeout in Argentina, the big corporates, they’re all on my website, and indicate a fulfilling and lucrative career. And there’s lots more I want to do. But the weather remains the lynchpin. That’s why when people dis it, I get a tad defensive. And quite rightly so.
For someone truly interested in the subject, with good English and scientific skills and happy to be a TEAM member, it’s a BRILLIANT career choice. Oh, and you must also be prepared to take it on the chin…..! Remember last year’s BBQ summer?!”