Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Angies warm front

There were never any big plans about being on TV

BBC NI weather presenter Angie Phillips meets Sunday Lifes Gail Edgar for an up close interview.

Angie Phillips has revealed her fantastic career in weather forecasting almost never happened. Despite lighting up our screens for the past two and a half decades, it all could have been so different for her.

Angie had always harboured a secret interest in her eventual career, but risked missing out when she embarked on a maths degree instead.

And even when she did finally had an opportunity to fall into forecasting, she almost missed out on a dream job with ITN — because the audition fell on her day off!

She said: “I got introduced to the thought of meteorology through studying geography at school.

“That was one of the topics we touched on and I thought, ‘That’s quite different’.

“So that’s what got the wheels in motion but it wasn’t a direct path.

“Somebody else spotted the advert in the Belfast Telegraph, brought it to me and I applied for that and I was accepted, but I was also accepted into Queens to do maths that year so I politely turned the Met Office down.”

But she soon realised her mistake.

“It was always at the back of my mind that that’s what I wanted to do and I had turned this down,” she says.

“I wasn’t particularly enjoying my course because I preferred geography to maths so I reapplied the next year.

“I was a real glutton for punishment.”

Angie enrolled at the Met Office College in Reading before starting her first job at Belfast’s Climate Office.

She was determined to work in forecasting and studied for a qualification in the field.

But her dreams were almost scuppered once again when she was reluctantly posted to Edinburgh’s Climate Office for a year.

“It wasn’t my choice because I wanted to do the forecasting route,” she says.

“It was a good experience but it wasn’t where I wanted to go.

“Because I had been in a climatological office, they just moved me into another one.”

Angie finally broke into forecasting when she was transferred to Glasgow Weather Centre where she worked for a year and a half.

But still the thought of broadcasting hadn’t occurred to her until she returned to work in Northern Ireland at Aldergrove, when she was asked to fly to London for screen tests with ITN.

Yet once again, she almost missed out.

She admitted: “I didn’t want to go because it was on my one day off. But I went along and it was very interesting.

“I never thought any more about it and a couple of months later they asked me to come and do a proper screen test to do the national weather. I went along for three days and I was accepted and became one of the ITN team.”

Angie was still based with the Met Office in Aldergrove, but once a month travelled to London to work at ITN for a week as part of a team of regional forecasters including Sian Lloyd and Martyn Davies. It was there that she found out that she wasn’t the only one who had stumbled upon her chosen career.

“Martyn Davies told me he fell into it by accident and that’s what happened to me,” she says.

“There were never any big plans about being on TV.

“It was like, ‘Oh my goodness, how did I end up here?’”

But after getting married to husband Ben Trowell 16 years ago and starting a family, Angie transferred to BBC Northern Ireland in 1995.

The mum-of-three married ex-rocker hubby Ben, a former member of rock band Ghost of an American Airman.

While Angie was based in England, Scotland, and at home in Northern Ireland with her job at the Met Office, guitarist Ben was touring Europe and the States with his band.

Ben wrote her so many love letters that, upon doing a recent spring clean, she ended up chucking lots out.

“We were very good letter writers and there were phone calls in the middle of the night,” Angie said.

Today though, Angie admits most of the letters have gone.

“I still have some of them but a lot of them were thrown out,” she said. “They took up a lot of room.

“Ben’s band were quite successful.

“They had a record deal with Hollywood Records and had a few CDs.”

But despite being a weather forecaster, not even Angie could stop it raining on her wedding day.

“It rained the day I got married and I got married in June,” she says.

“You’d think that in the summer months you’d have a better chance but it’s just warmer rain.

“Weather’s the one thing you can’t control.”

But even when she’s not working, Angie can’t escape weather talk when members of the public recognise her.

When she’s out and about, people still want to draw upon her expertise.

“When I’m out of work I don’t see myself in that way,” she says.

“I’m playing catch-up like everybody else. You’re doing your shopping and your ironing.

“If it’s a weekend you go out and do normal things.

“Occasionally if it’s very obvious, people will look at you and say, ‘Where do I know you from’, or very occasionally, if they are too embarrassed and you’re standing in a queue, they start to talk about the weather.

“But I think it’s just to get a reaction to see if it’s me.

“Then there are people who come right up to you and say, ‘Are you the woman who reads the news?’

“I’m not quite the news — I’m the weather which is much more important because it is the only thing which affects everybody.”

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