AND now for the weather.” On Wednesday morning on Radio 4, Sam Fraser asked the question: is there a more fetishised and demeaning term at use in the British media than that of “weather girl”? Fraser, a broadcaster and stand-up comedian, knew the answer already. She’s been a standby weather presenter on British regional television since 2012, after all.

“Within a fortnight of appearing on screen my arse had its own online fan club and I feature on a YouTube channel called Babes of Britain,” she pointed out.

Scorchio! The Story of the Weather Girl wore its polemic lightly, but be in no doubt, Fraser was taking no prisoners here. She revealed the everyday misogyny she and other female weather presenters are subject to; from letters about their “VPL” to more serious cases involving the sending of pornographic material and even stalking.

The Herald: Sian LloydSian Lloyd

Maybe that’s the inevitable result of a culture that constantly sexualises the role. That’s when it’s not dismissing it. Men don’t get called weather boys, as one contributor pointed out.

Boris Johnson is one of the many journalists Fraser quoted having a go at weather girls for their lack of knowledge and ability. At which point a nation tuts and mutters. “The irony”, right?

The more Fraser uncovered the more I was amazed she was able to keep her temper, but then, I guess, women have had a lifetime of learning to do just that.

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At the end, meteorologist and weather presenter Sian Lloyd raised the example of the much-loved weatherman Bill Giles.

“Bill Giles had quite a belly on him,” she pointed out, “and Bill’s belly would cover most of Wales.” Female weather presenters will only have made it, Lloyd suggested, when they could be the same age and size as Giles was and no-one batted an eyelid. Or wrote a column telling them they were fat.

Elsewhere on Misogyny.FM this week, Doon Mackichan, best known for the TV comedy sketch show Smack the Pony and for her role in Toast of London, has been doing the rounds promoting her new memoir, My LadyParts.

The Herald: Smack the PonySmack the Pony (Image: Channel 4)

I’ve heard her speak on various radio shows, but the most interesting by some distance was her appearance on Nihal Arthanayake’s show on 5 Live on Monday afternoon.

That’s partly down to the fact that Arthanayake always gives plenty of space to his interviewees – there is never any sense that he’s rushing his guests so he can get on to the next item (a real bugbear on so much talk radio), but also because it was the only conversation that properly gave voice to the anger that seems to power much of Mackichan’s book; its recording of the micro (and not so micro) aggressions and blatant sexism she’s had to deal with in her career.

She told a story about filming a drama in which she was pushed to appear nude in a sauna scene by her director, but stood firm. Mackichan’s friend, however, had agreed and, because her character was killed, her “corpse” had to be covered in mutilation marks.

“That was a terrible moment,” Mackichan recalled. “We sat there. I was holding her hand saying, ‘You could change your mind.’ And she just said, ‘I’ve said yes now, so I can’t.’ She was in tears, being made up naked with bruises all over her body. I wish she had just said, ‘I’ve changed my mind’ … It was just very brutal.”

As a result, Mackichan added, she has never signed up for any crime drama that involved violence against women since. And there are so many of them, she pointed out.

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“I love a good thriller and there is so little I can watch,” she added. “I don’t want to see any more programmes on the Ripper. Or Sutcliffe. There’s got to be some other stories. There are a lot of other stories. There are so many exciting, adventurous, thrilling, brilliant stories that don’t involve killing women.”

Reader, I cheered.


Listen out for English Rose, Radio 4, 2.15pm, Friday
Helen Cross’s fantasy horror drama returns for a new series as her titular proto-feminist vampire, played by former Coronation Street star Alexandra Mardell, finds herself in Los Angeles.