Weathermen require a cool head – especially when hanging from a zip wire, says Chris Page
Five, four, three, two, one – roll titles… Chris, we’re on air, 22 minutes to you.”
I’ll always remember the first time I heard that little voice in my ear during live TV. The rush of adrenaline and the buzz of energy that happened then, and still happens to this very day, whether I’m on location or in the studio.
I grew up in the “Fine City”. It’s not just me that calls it that, the road sign as you enter Norwich proclaims it, too. As a child, I spent many summer evenings learning to sail and kayak with a local scout group on the Norfolk Broads.
But I never imagined that one day I’d become the weatherman for the local TV channel I’d grown up with – ITV Anglia.
I’ve always loved the weather, ever since building my first rain gauge with my dad when I was six. But it wasn’t until high school that my passion for physical geography developed. I graduated from the University of Reading in 2012, joined the Met Office in Exeter and qualified as a meteorologist, before moving to ITV Anglia in December 2017.
Since then, it’s been a huge learning curve. In the first few weeks on the job there was the “Beast from the East”, followed by the record-breaking summer of 2018. And it never stops. As I write, the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK has just been confirmed in Cambridge.
The weather is something we Brits talk about all the time. We love it. And, as much as I love being in the comfort of the studio during the boiling hot summers and the freezing cold winters, you can’t beat facing the elements with an outside broadcast. I am a geographer, after all.
Now, contrary to belief, there is no script with weather presenting. Everything is done “on the fly”. Unlike a newsreader, when we look at the camera there is no autocue, all we see is ourselves in front of the map.
But when we’re on location we don’t even get that. There is no heads up from the graphics, everything has to be done from memory. It’s just you, the camera and that little voice in your ear counting down to zero. You’re just praying the graphics are in time with you.
I’ve been lucky with my work to visit some stunning places in East Anglia. Firm favourites include the endless Cambridgeshire skies, the Norfolk Broads and the picturesque coastline of our eastern counties – perfect backdrops for doing live weather.
I try to bring something different to my outside broadcasts and, being at the end of the programme, we’re able to have a softer, “fun” approach.
So I’ve done mid-programme teasers on a zip wire, in the middle of an assault course, on a sailing boat, while ice skating and surrounded by lambs nibbling my jacket – although not all at the same time!
One outside broadcast that stands out was just before Christmas. A local garden centre went viral by allowing its customers to jump through a Christmas-tree-wrapping tunnel for charity.
I wasn’t allowed a rehearsal, but I’d been watching others do it. All went fine until I put my hands out and was pulled through the tunnel. The netting acted like a boa constrictor and I was left ending the programme with a squished face and my arms above my head. Not my best moment, although the producers thought otherwise.
The beautiful Norfolk lavender fields are one of my favourite places to broadcast from. And on those days, surrounded by a sea of purple and a smell so potent you can taste it, I realise how fortunate I am to work in the place that I call home.
Chris Page presents the weather for ITV Anglia.