ITV National Weather (ITV, 1996-2001)
This is a piece that I wasn’t sure about doing at first, but then I decided to go ahead. Here’s the story. Although I do like to take notice of the bits between the programmes, one area of TV presentation that has never really interested me that much is weather forecasts. Although the graphics and technology on various channels has evolved over the years, and there have been several memorable forecasters, I’ve never really thought that it was worth writing about, partly because such things do seem to have something of an awkward reputation online.
This is because there seems to be a small core of people who are mildly obsessed with old weather forecasts, seemingly needing to know what ident was shown on what day, and they probably often also ponder what Martyn Davies had for dinner before he hosted the forecast after News At Ten on 10 November 1998, and so on. However, watching some old news and weather clips online recently, I couldn’t help but be struck by a piece of weather presentation that all these years on still looked so creative and impressive to the point that I think it is worth documenting it. These are… the Weathergens.
In February 1989, ITV launched their National Weather service, which was sponsored by Powergen (one of the earliest shows on British TV to have a sponsor). In 1993, some idents were introduced to be shown before every forecast that represented the mood and weather of what was planned for that day. These were very good, but in November 1996 they were replaced by the Weathergens. There were a dozen of these remarkable characters created featuring in a 15-second sequence (including a couple of minor variations) before every weather forecast on ITV, accompanied by an equally atmospheric soundtrack. They were designed and produced by Lambie-Nairn and The New Renaissance Company. Over 20 years on they still look hugely impressive and definitely stood up to constant showings. Here’s a review of all of them…
Aurora. This brightly-coloured one represents sun and hot weather so it wasn’t shown very often (joke).
Brellina. Possibly the most famous of the Weathergens, mostly for the “how did they do that?” element to it, where a woman has water shoot out of her head on a mountain of umbrellas to represent rain. There was also a variation of this one for stormier weather. I have also noticed that a lot of online commenters have described this one as “kinky”.
Crystella. This one stars a rather glamorous-looking woman who has become a snowflake and cloned herself to fall gently from the sky.
Cyan. This is a variation on Gilda, who turns around to reveal a blue-tinted woman, seemingly representing the sun going down, and the colder nighttime weather taking over.
Frice. This one represents frost and ice, it must have been shown a lot at the start of the year.
Florta. This is an autumnal one featuring a young woman who rather unhappily loses the leaves on her head.
Gilda. This one represents the sun going down and being replaced by rain. This was one with another stormier variation.
Helios. This one represents the sun poking through clouds, as illustrated by a big shiny head.
Mirka. This one represents mist and fog. I suppose that after watching these again all these years on I would have to say that this is my favourite of the Weathergens. This is because these idents are a rather unexpected source of what if you have read some of my pieces on pop music you might realise I seem to be a fan of – rather spooky-looking women with big hair wearing too much make-up.
Nimbella. This one represents rain and overcast weather, featuring some rather alarming eyelashes. This was another one with a stormier variation.
Norwin. This is another moody one that represents wind, which seems to mean bad news for owners of bowler hats. Again, there was a stormier variation of this one.
Shivra. I have noticed that a lot of the comments about these Weathergens online are “these used to scare me as a child”. Well I was never really that scared of them, although I do think that this one is probably the weirdest of the lot, featuring a shivering blue-faced boy representing the cold.
In October 2001, the Weathergens (following a few re-edits) finally left the screen after almost five years. I definitely think that they remain among the best collections of idents that I have seen. I do try and keep away from “so much better than nowadays!” and “why won’t they bring it back?”-type comments on here, but there really doesn’t seem to be any TV presentation as striking and lavish as this now.