Tomasz Schafernaker is on cloud nine after being named the nation’s favourite TV weather presenter.
The meteorologist streaked ahead of BBC Breakfast’s Carol Kirkwood and BBC Scotland’s Judith Ralston to take top honours in a hotly contested poll of 25,000 RadioTimes.com readers.
“Thank you so so so much. I’m really flattered,” said Schafernaker, who counts former Sky News forecaster Francis Wilson as his own weather hero.
The fully qualified meteorologist and viral weather wonder stormed ahead in the early stages, but there was high pressure from all four corners of the UK as more than 50 of the nation’s regional presenters and forecasters battled it out, drawing huge support on social media as they exchanged friendly fire.
BBC national presenter Kirkwood claimed second place while her fellow Scot Ralston, one of BBC Scotland’s lead weather presenters, finished in third.
STV meteorologist Sean Batty wasn’t too far behind in fourth position, while BBC Look North’s Paul Hudson came fifth after a tight battle with his colleague Owain Wyn Evans, who finished in sixth place.
Channel 5’s punniest weather presenter Sian Welby was seventh, Look North’s Keeley Donovan came eighth, weather legend Ian McCaskill finished in ninth position and BBC Wales’ Derek Brockway rounded out the top ten.
But the result could have been very different if fate – and an aunt – hadn’t intervened back in the day, because poll winner Tomasz Schafernaker very nearly didn’t end up on our TV screens. Schafernaker, who was fascinated by earth sciences and the cosmos as a child, told RadioTimes.com that he never planned to have a career in television and that his enthusiasm for weather had always vied with another rather more unusual interest…
“My real passion was for sharks, originally,” he revealed. “That’s what gets me going every day, sharks and meteorology are probably equal. To make a job of it I chose to study meteorology and the crazy thing about that was I never felt like a true scientist at heart. I was always an artist, I did art at school, but I did quite well in my science exams and that led me on to meteorology at university.”
It was thanks to his aunt that Schafernaker ended up reading the weather on our screens. He had been working on a research project at Miami University and was actually on holiday when she applied for a Broadcast Assistant job on his behalf way back in 2000.
“She said ‘Oh by the way, I’m sending an application for this great post at the BBC, it’s for meteorology, perfect for you, bit of art, bit of science, bit of fun, but we need to write something about you’, so I think I dictated it over the phone thinking ‘I don’t know why you’re doing this, I’ll never get a job at the BBC’.
Schafernaker was one of eight applicants selected for the role and he’s still very grateful to all those who tune in for his forecasts all these years later.
“I’m flattered that people watch forecasts still in this day and age on television,” he said, citing the nation’s regional forecasters as TV viewers’ unsung local heroes.
“I’ve been doing national TV for over 10 years now, television is changing all the time now, there’s social media, apps, all these different places where you can get weather from, and yet people, at least part of our general public, still feels like they want to tune in and see a real face telling them if it’s going to be raining or sunny.”
Why does he think his forecasts in particular keep the nation coming back for more then?
“When I look back at my forecasts, and sometimes we have to, I don’t find anything especially different about it,” he laughed. “I just go there and I’m myself, and I just do the weather. I literally go on there and just totally be myself because I think the worst thing you can do is try to be someone you’re not.”
Not all weather presenters are on TV. Windy Wilson, a Scottish amateur forecaster from Perthshire, garnered a large chunk of the vote, thanks in no small part to his 140,000 Facebook fans and 25.6 thousand Twitter followers.