UK to teach Michael Fish skills to Russian weather starlets

July 5, 2002

Russian TV weather presenters - chosen more for their attractiveness, femininity and legs than meteorological expertise - are to get scientific training with the help of the UK Met Office College.

"You only have to watch Russian television to see that our weather girls are chosen for their looks and long legs, not for their scientific knowledge," said Anatoly Bogush, vice-rector for international relations at the Russian State Hydro-meteorological University in St Petersburg, which is planning to set up courses for TV forecasters.

"We need to train both those who present the weather and those who write the scripts so that they understand what they are talking about," he said.

In Britain, where all BBC weather presenters and most of those on ITV are Met Office trained, meteorology comes first and media training later, Professor Bogush added.

David Bennetts, principal of the Met Office College, in Reading, said his staff could be ready to offer the first course as early as next spring, provided the funding, some £150,000, was in place.

"Although the UK costs for setting up such a course are, in Russian terms, high, once the skills transfer has been accomplished it could be maintained solely within the Russian economy," Dr Bennetts said.

In the past few years, the college had developed intensive media training courses that provided non-meteorologists with enough scientific knowledge to present authoritative forecasts, he said.

Weather presenters from the Czech Republic, United Arab Emirates and Kosovo were among those who had benefited from tailor-made courses in Reading, Mr Bennetts added.

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