With a rhythm all it’s own, though the Shipping Forecast mentions places we've never heard of and makes little sense - that doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of us tuning in every day!
1. The Shipping Forecast is a round-up of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles.
2. It’s produced by the Met Office and broadcast on Radio 4 on FM and LW four times a day (0048, 0520, 1754 and 2101).
3. The waters around the British Isles are divided into 31 sea areas, working roughly clockwise from the north, down the east coast, around the south coast, up past Wales and up the Irish sea to the far north west of the UK: Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar, Fitzroy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes, Southeast Iceland.
4. Chef Rick Stein borrowed extracts from the Shipping Forecast for the opening and closing credits of his TV series. ‘Rick Stein’s Seafood Lover’s Guide.’
5. An extract of the Shipping Forecast featured in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
6. On Blur’s Parklife album, in the song This is a Low, the lyrics mention Biscay, Dogger and Thames.
7. On Monday 30 June 2014, for the first time in 90 years, the BBC failed to broadcast the Shipping Forecast. Someone was reading it out, but it wasn’t being transmitted! Thousands complained.
8. Some of the areas are named after sandbanks such as Viking, Forties, Sole and Bailey.
9. …some are named after estuaries including Forth, Tyne, Thames and Shannon.
10. ..Dover and Plymouth are named after towns.
11. …some are named after islands including Wight, Lundy and Hebrides.
12. The sea area Fitzroy is named after Admiral Robert Fitzroy, the founder of what would become the Met Office and the inventor of the weather forecast.
13. The Shipping Forecast has a unique and distinctive sound. With a limit of 370 words, the repetition is hypnotic and soothing.
14. The Shipping Forecast takes about 10 min to read and you can hear the presenter slowing down or speeding up as they near the end of the report to get it finished exactly on time!
15. Remember the 1983 children’s cartoon The Adventures of Portland Bill? Many of the characters are named after features in the Shipping Forecast.
16. In 2011, as England closed in on retaining the Ashes, Test Match Special cut away to the Shipping Forecast just moments before the final wicket fell. When they returned to the cricket, it was all over!
It is now…