Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Saturday, 26 December 2009

First BBC television weatherman George Cowling dies

George Cowling
Mr Cowling joined the Met Office as an RAF meteorological assistant

Television's first weather presenter George Cowling died on Christmas Eve, following a short stay in hospital.

Mr Cowling, 89, had presented the first televised forecast from the BBC's Lime Grove Studios on 11 January 1954.

He joined the Met Office in 1939 as a meteorological assistant for the RAF and went on to work as a forecaster in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

He appeared on the BBC until 1957 and he remained with the Met Office until his retirement in 1981.

BBC Weather editorial manager Richard Chapman said: "George has a unique place in the history of weather broadcasting. Our thoughts are with his family.

"He was always highly regarded by the BBC Weather team as it grew and developed over the years, and he continued to take a keen interest in how the weather story was told to our audiences."

In the days before satellite images, Mr Cowling's main tools were pencils - and a rubber - for analysing the charts and a pair of dividers for measuring isobar spacing to give wind speeds.

In order to get the graphics to the BBC, he had to transport a large bundle of rolled charts across London to the studios at Shepherd's Bush.

George had a long and distinguished career with us and he has a unique place in our history, being there at the very beginning of live TV weather forecasts.
Met Office

In February 1957 he was promoted to RAF Bomber Command and subsequent postings included Singapore, Malta, Bahrain and Germany.

He also worked as a senior instructor at the Met Office College and as principal forecaster at Heathrow Airport.

Royal visit

In his biography for the BBC Weather website, he recalled a studio visit by Princess Margaret.

Mr Cowling warned her he had "bad news" for viewers, with frost forecast.

The princess said: "That's good news - I love the cold weather."

Stumped for something to say, the weatherman eventually replied: "Perhaps ma'am, you don't suffer from frozen pipes like the rest of us."

The Met Office said it was saddened to hear of Mr Cowling's death.

A spokesman said: "George had a long and distinguished career with us and he has a unique place in our history, being there at the very beginning of live TV weather forecasts. Our sympathies go out to his family and many friends."



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