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Strange Weather Days – Series 2

British weather, love it or hate it, we all talk about it. When I say talk, I mean mutter- we hardly boast. Watching the discovery channel one can’t help wondering what it must be like to have hurricanes, tornados, monsoons and avalanches filling up your back garden on a Sunday morning.

It would, of course, be terrible, especially for your seedlings.

So we have the BBC radio answer to extreme weather – Strange Weather Days. Note the title, not ‘When rain goes bad’ or ‘The worlds worst hurricanes.. EVER!! Strange weather days. Truth is, it is a pretty accurate title.

There are no dramatisations’, no OTT interviews, no dubious experts, just ordinary honest people telling some fascinating stories.

From the moment the music (Brain Eno?) kicks in you know enter a special world of slightly strange weather. The programme is aware that it is dealing with weather which is hardly worth a footnote in the world stage, yet what makes it so fascinating is the people and the settings. These are genuinely nice, normal people who have witnessed things we, most likely, never will.

Helen Young is the perfect presenter. Obviously interested in the stories she is hearing, both as a meteorologist as well as sympathetic (and obviously likeable) listener. Some stories are quite whimsical, the hottest day ever and the huge hail storm have no real tragedy in them, others dealing with smog, blizzard and lightning at times are more serious.

The only story I found slightly less effective was the London smog episode, given the number of people who died it was perhaps not the right format to deal with the story. This is the only minor criticism of a very listenable series.

So after all I said about extreme weather do I still want tornados in my back garden? Give me strange weather days any time. Whilst one might gasp at the sight of a tornado streaking across Wichita (there is after all no spectacle like nature) one cannot help but be enthralled by these very ordinary British tales. They are told with subtlety and wit, something sadly missing from most ‘weather’ documentaries.

The researchers and editors did a wonderful job finding these people, no one is mocked or frowned upon yet there is always a hint of the eccentric in many of the people they interview. All the interviewees tell fascinating tales of the strange days, in words we can all understand, with not a note a hyperbole in sight.



BBC Iplayer

Climate History in the British Isles

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