TV weatherman Paul Hudson is branching out with a new show, as he explains to Neil Hudson.
For someone who spends most of his time telling us what’s happening in the sky, weatherman Paul Hudson is about as down to earth as you can get.
Believe it or not, he’s been on our screens now for 20 years but really, when I say our, I mean those of us living in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, where he’s become something of an institution.
As the weather anchor on BBC news programme Look North, it’s his lovable (dare I say it, cheeky chappie) image - and verbal ping pong with the news anchors is almost legendary, not least while former presented Christa Ackroyd was in the post.
She may have left the show now but during their nightly exchanges, it was Paul who shined. He gave as good as he got and the friendly friction which seemed to build up between the two spheres became something of a feature of the show.
“I remember my first time presenting in front of a camera and it was daunting. I can’t remember what said, it was Hallowe’en 1997. I remember feeling physically sick. You still get nerves to a certain extent, because otherwise you cannot perform, not if you want to be sharp - I always think a little bit of adrenaline helps your performance.
“You have to be on your toes because after you’ve done the weather, you have a little chat with the hosts and you never know what they’re going to say to you. We would have a bit of banter and sometimes we’d even carry that on afterwards, off air or outside the studio. It was all in good heart, though. You have to get on with people.”
Getting on with people has never really been a problem, even when the weather is grim, his outlook is always positive and that’s opened doors for him. His chipper personality and disarming smile - a constant fixture of his weather reports - have endeared him to the public - he has 61,000 twitter followers, for example and is recognised in the street pretty much wherever he goes.
“I was out recently and it was like mob city, I’m used to being recognised and it’s mostly by women who are over 55, but you know, if you ever get the weather wrong, people are very quick to point that out. I went out in Leeds recently and I was surprised at how many young people recognised me, I had all these students coming up to me… and I think that’s down to youngsters watching Look North with their parents, which makes me feel old.”
He’s not old yet, he’s 44 and a father of two children, aged 10 and seven.
But now the forecaster is to take his inimitable talents to broader pastures. From this month - and in addition to fulfilling his slot on the nightly weather - the 44-year-old father-of-two will be presenting the BBC’s Inside Out programme, a weekly magazine mixing topical and off-beat stories from around the country.
It’s a departure from talking about the national obsession but it’s one he’s looking forward to. It will, if nothing else, showcase his inimitable presenting style to a much wider audience.
“I’ll be going down to three days a week so I can do the new project, I’ll be the main presenter, the main face of the programme, so it’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“We’ve already done some pieces for the programme, so there will be a mix of presenting and also making reports for some of the pieces. It’s going to be a real mix of things too, so it’s not just weather related, there’s hard news pieces in there as well, which is a real change for me but I think it’s come at the right time. When you have done something for 19 years, there comes a time when you need a change.”
It’s not that he hasn’t already dipped his hand into other areas of the media. He is the author of five books (yes, they’re all about the weather) and he also presents a weekly radio show (no prizes for guessing what that’s about, either - it’s title, The Weather Show, couldn’t be more unambiguous).
He typically works four days a week, which led to him taking up golf and signing up as a member of Moor Allerton Golf Club, where he occasionally rubs shoulders with the likes of Geoff Boycott.
“I had to find something to do,” he says, almost apologetically, “and so I gave golf a try and now I really enjoy it. I play off 19, which isn’t bad, although I’ve yet to have a hole in one.”
Born in Keighley, by the age of eight, he was running a fully-equipped weather station from his bedroom. He recorded the weather every single day for the next ten years - yes, a whole decade, even forcing his grandad, who lived nearby, to take over whenever he went away on holiday.
So obsessed was he with the weather, he used the data he collected to draw graphs and bar charts, he predicted trends and patterns. By the age of 11 he was on Calendar being interviewed by Richard Whiteley, and he had his own monthly weather column in his local paper the Keighley News.
His new venture, however, will mean he’ll be slightly less visible on our screens. So, what’s his long term forecast for his own career? “I never want to leave the weather, it’s what I’m interested in and I love doing it. I can’t foresee a time when I wouldn’t be doing the weather.”
Inside Out starts tonight (Sept 7) at 7.30pm (Yorkshire & Lincolnshire only) on BBC One.