Daytime TV: Snow happens

Gary Day is bemused by nationwide reactions to the wintry weather. It is, after all, seasonal for January

January 14, 2010

I don't know if you've noticed but it's been snowing. It does sometimes snow in January. January is one of the winter months. In winter, it snows. Sometimes.

For days we had been warned that it might snow. There had been snow before Christmas but none on the day itself. Unless you count the snow-globe in EastEnders. Archie stared moodily into it moments before he was murdered.

We were shown pictures of snow on television in case we had forgotten what it was. "This is snow," said a weatherman in a purple tie. "It is coming." There was panic. Snow was coming. In winter. We looked out of the window and there it was. Everywhere. Soon it will turn to ice. Then we will all be dancing on it. A quick-step and over. A shuffle and a crash.

The Big Freeze (BBC One, Wednesday 6 January, 8pm) reported on the disaster. Of snow. And ice. In winter. Sophie Raworth presented. "Airports are closed, motorways are shut and trains are cancelled." Snow had made the usual situation even worse.

The Army had been called in. They were now fighting snow as well as terrorists, thereby guaranteeing that there will be even more snow on the way soon.

"In the next half hour," said Sophie, "we will bring you the latest information from across the UK." People in Paignton dared not leave their seats in case they missed what the temperature was in Pontefract.

Sophie turned to her correspondents who were covering the crisis. Of snow. In winter. Ben Brown was first. He should have been called Ben Blue, because he looked so cold. Ben's brief was to report on Britain under a blanket of snow. He lifted a corner of the blanket to see how Britain was coping. A man on the A3 said he had moved 200 yards in four hours. Then he realised he wasn't going anywhere. Life can often feel like that.

Thousands of schools were closed, giving children the opportunity to get some education for the day. In such ways was snow threatening to undermine the British way of life. But one headmistress would not be cowed. She was carrying on as normal, just like Londoners after the July 2005 bombings.

Snow sabotaged the power supplies, leaving parts of the country without heat or light. Are we on the verge of a new Dark Age? Ben's teeth were chattering too much to say. The electricity board were not allowed to repair lines for health and safety reasons. Lots of people therefore froze and went hungry, which is a good thing because we have an obesity problem in this country.

Ben eventually ran out of things to say about snow. It was white. It was cold. It had taken over Britain. Back in the studio, Sophie repeated a lot of what Ben had said. It had been snowing. The snow had caused a lot of problems.

Could Claire Marshall in Alcester, in Warwickshire, say anything different? Yes, she could. "The real danger is ice." She pointed to it with the toe of her boot. "It's forming now," she explained helpfully. "And it's going to be a real danger tomorrow." With that, she skidded into the pub where most of Alcester's inhabitants seemed to have gathered. They had been drinking all day and gave Claire a hearty welcome. She beat them off with her microphone and headed to the bar to meet Izzy Seccombe, a councillor with special responsibility for children.

But where was she? Jane looked around, eventually locating Izzy somewhere in the region of her knees. "It's been a bad day for schools hasn't it?" said Jane, squinting down. Izzy had to agree. A thousand schools had been closed. "Is that the worst you can remember?" Izzy said it was. Claire tried to think of more questions so that she could stay in the pub instead of having to go back outside. Where there was ice.

Sophie asked weatherman Jay Wynne to explain why we had snow. High pressure is blocking the warm air from the west that normally keeps our winters mild. No one's gas or electricity was restored by that revelation, proof that knowledge is not power.

We were back in the cold. This time in Wales. Reporter Hywel Griffith was in a field in Pontypool up to his waist in snow. "There'll be no rugby here," he said ruefully. He looked around for a while. Snow was settling on his upper body. "Can you give me a hand here?" he asked.

Sophie decided it would be more interesting to watch Ayesha Baksh be pebble-dashed by a gritter outside Victoria Station than watch Hywel turn into a snowman. The noise drowned out her voice that was no doubt telling us it was snowing. And that things could only get worse.

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