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Monday, 21 February, 2000, 12:07 GMT
BBC's weather girl power

Weather forecaster Helen Young Helen Young heads the BBC's weather team

The BBC's peak-time weather bulletins are to be presented by a new five-strong team dominated by women.

BBC Weather forecaster Isobel Lang Isobel Lang is already a familiar face
Some of the BBC's longest-serving forecasters, including 55-year-old Michael Fish - who made his TV debut in 1974 - will vanish as weekday presenters of the flagship 1pm, 6pm and 9pm slots.

The new team includes 30-year-old Helen Young, who replaced veteran Bill Giles as head of the BBC Weather Centre last month, Isobel Lang, 29, Sarah Wilmshurst, 29, and Helen Willetts, 30. The only man on the new-look team is 37-year-old David Braine.

The BBC played down the significance of the new team, claiming it was part of a regular review of presenters and just a "coincidence" that four of the five were female.

Weather forecaster John Kettley John Kettley will present mainly on News 24
A spokesman added: "It's just the way the cookie crumbled - the next time we carry out a review it could just as easily go the other way."

However, he admitted that the move was part of a bid to attract a younger audience.

"The only way we can do that is to have younger presenters. We are simply providing an opportunity for younger presenters - otherwise how else do you give people the chance to perform?"

Michael Fish and John Kettley will present the weather on other BBC channels such as News 24 and continue fronting weekend bulletins.

Bullying allegations

The BBC Weather Centre is recovering after an unstable year during which there was a seven-month Meteorological Office inquiry into allegations that former BBC Weather Centre boss Bill Giles had bullied members of his staff.

Former BBC Weather Centre manager Bill Giles Appealed: Bill Giles was cleared of bullying alllegations
The Met Office initially found Giles guilty of serious misconduct. However, the veteran broadcaster was cleared after winning an appeal last November.

The two forecasters who made the alegations against Giles - Richard Edgar and David Lee - will continue to provide forecasts for the Met Office's government and commercial customers.

All the BBC's weather forecasters are employees of the Met Office, which provides all the BBC's weather bulletins across radio and television.

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See also:
09 Jan 00 |  UK
Giles walks off into sunset
26 Nov 99 |  UK
Giles wins bullying case

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