Former weather presenter Bill Giles has declared the BBC’s new weather forecasts “as disappointing as a downpour in high summer.”
Giles, who led the BBC weather team from 1983 until 2000, has cast his expert eye over the revamped forecasts – but he has been left deeply unimpressed.
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“If a weather forecast is supposed to give you a clear idea of what might be in store tomorrow, then the new weather maps, with their state-of-the-art graphics, are a severe disappointment,” he writes in the new issue of Radio Times magazine.
The changes were revealed on 6th February, when the BBC officially switched to its new weather services provider MeteoGroup.
“The truth is, the old weather maps were better, more fit for purpose,” Giles says.
“But they were a feature of the forecast when the Met Office provided the BBC with its weather forecasts. That contract came to an end at the beginning of this year. Much of the forecast still comes from the Met Office so the accuracy is not in question. But the clarity is.”
The former forecaster suggests that the new maps are unclear and uninformative, and complains that the zoomed-out geographical view makes it harder to see detail in the UK.
And as temperatures dip below freezing, Giles says the colours on the maps are confusing: cloud and sunshine are hard to tell apart, and cold weather is no longer represented by blue numbers.
The changes have been controversial online – but the new graphics have fans as well as critics.
On the day of the switch-over, viewer Jessica Jane Evershed told RadioTimes.com that the map had a “Much better view of Scotland, which before seem to drunkenly slip off the map. The curved map used to drive me crazy when trying to accurately locate a place.”
Stuart Allen added: “Good clear view and great to see actual clouds at last! liking it!”
Gary Skyme was less impressed: “Impossible to read the words, and the UK landmass is too small. Unfortunately the shape of the UK doesn’t lend itself to widescreen, hence why the animated flyover worked. Seems to be a backward step to move from the advanced graphics we previously had, back to this.”
Michael Carter agreed, writing: “Love watching the weather. Really don’t like the new look. It’s smaller and further away, and it’s difficult to see any detail in the rain/snow. The snow and cloud are often indistinguishable from one another.”
A BBC spokesperson told Radio Times: “BBC Weather has a more realistic map which presenters can customise by adding different layers of data to tell the most relevant weather story, as well as zooming in to areas of interest to give a more detailed forecast. Towns and city names on the maps are a reference point for audiences and we will aim to ensure that most locations are represented over a period of time.
“In addition, the temperature colours are now accessible for colour blindness, unlike the suggested blocks of colour by Mr Giles. Before the launch of the new services we talked to audiences at length to pinpoint the best possible improvements and we are confident that overall people will appreciate the new features.”
Read Bill Giles’ full column in Radio Times magazine, out now