Britain’s first female weather presenter on ITV regional television has said making her debut on-air was “absolutely terrifying” in the 1960s.
Hilary Langford, who said she did not have a rehearsal before being thrust into the spotlight after being recommended by a friend’s father for the career, was among the former female weather presenters to unite on ITV’s This Morning to mark 170 years of the Met Office.
The channel’s longest-standing weather reporter, Emma Jesson, and Good Morning Britain presenter Laura Tobin also appeared on the ITV daytime show on Thursday along with former TV-am presenter Ulrika Jonsson to reflect on their time in the profession.
Hosts Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond opened the segment by introducing the presenters while It’s Raining Men from pop duo The Weather Girls played out in the studio before showing clips of weather broadcasts from across the years.
Revealing how she ended up on TV in 1966, Langford said: “The job came about because my very best friend at school, her father was the programme controller of Tyne Tees Television and he asked me one day, ‘Would I like to appear on a new item that they were putting into the North East newsfeed?’. I thought about it for two seconds and (said) ‘yes’.”
She recalled that two days after their conversation, the local news producer called her down to the ITV studio where she was given a script about the weather and sent to make-up and wardrobe before being put live on air.
“No rehearsal, nothing. It was absolutely terrifying and that’s how they did it in 1966”, she added.
Langford also recounted how she would wear clothes during the broadcast in line with the forecast including wearing a sun dress when it was particularly hot or a gold-coloured raincoat when it was wet weather.
While naval officer and scientist Robert FitzRoy founded what is now the Met Office in 1854, Langford revealed that in the 1960s they would get their weather forecasts from the Royal Air Force station in Boulmer near Alnwick.
“I just used to ring them up every day and they used to produce the weather forecast”, she said.
“I was a bit of a trailblazer really when I think about it. I’m 80 next week.”
Jonsson also recalled how her time as a weather presenter on former ITV breakfast programme TV-am helped set up her career which led to her hosting the game show Gladiators.
The 56-year-old, who was also on comedy panel show Shooting Stars, said: “I was about 21 at the time and I’d been working as a secretary for the television company, done some auditions to become a children’s TV presenter – didn’t go too well, played my guitar. Say no more.
“And then did a weather audition, which was pretty awful and then they asked me to come back and do another one.
“I spent three months going to the London weather centre, just learning about the weather, which I then became slightly obsessed with.
“It’s such a big thing for the British people. I guess I was sort of lucky. I took a punt on a show which nobody knew what was going to happen with it, it was called Gladiators.”
She said her boss had a different approach to their wardrobe which was to promote “eternal sunshine”.
“We had to wear bright pink, bright yellow, encouraged to go on sun beds, have shoulder pads, bouffant hair”, she added.
This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV1 and ITVX.