Bill was born in Dittisham, near Dartmouth in Devon. He joined the Meteorological Office at Exeter in January 1957 on leaving the Bristol College of Science and Technology. Later that year, as an 18-year-old, he was sent to Christmas Island to observe the meteorological effects of the H bomb tests and later recalled seeing the “horrendous clouds”. Bill was based in Germany as an observer with the RAF (1961 – 1963) and worked as a lecturer at the Met Office’s training college (1968 – 1970).
His broadcasting career began in 1972, when he transferred to the London Weather Centre to become part of the BBC Radio weather forecasting team. He moved to TV forecasting in June 1975 and remained as part of the team until January 2000, with his final broadcast in December 1999. In 1980, he had wished viewers a “goodbye” as promotion took him back to Bracknell where he worked in public relations. In May 1983, he returned to take charge of BBC Television’s forecasting team, on the retirement of Jack Scott. Bill was senior forecaster from May 1983 until his retirement. He gained the rank of senior principal scientific officer. He was one of the BBC’s best-known weathermen, with his trademark sign-off: a cheery wink at the end of each forecast.
In October 1990 his book The Weather Story was published. He presented the BBC series The Weather Show, which provided an insight into the mysteries of forecasting and offered a glimpse behind-the-scenes at the kind of things that could go wrong.
He made occasional appearances on BBC TV’s Breakfast Time (1985 – 1987) and Breakfast News (1991 – 1992) and was the BBC One Christmas Day weatherman three times (1985, 1988 and 1991). He was the subject of This is Your Life in January 1998 and won Ready Steady Cook against fellow forecaster Michael Fish (BBC Two, 2009).
Bill was awarded the OBE in the 1995 New Year’s Honours for services to broadcast meteorology. He won the European Meteorological Society;s prestigious award of Top Broadcast Meteorologist in 2008.
On retiring from the Met Office and the BBC in January 2000, he set up The Weather People with John Teather (ex-head of BBC Weather Centre) and in 2017 he co-wrote with John A Climate of Change. In March 2018, in an article in the Radio Times, Bill complained about the BBC’s new weather graphics saying they were “a severe disappointment” and that “Channel 5’s offered a clearer view”.
Paul R. Jackson corresponded with Bill in September 2017. Paul asked Bill about why he disappeared from screens in 1980: “There is a very interesting story about me saying goodbye in 1980 and coming back in 1983. When I got promoted to senior scientific officer in 1980 (the same rank as Jack Scott), it was decided than there could only be one senior forecaster on the team, which was Jack, so I was posted to Bracknell. However, looking into the future, Jack decided that he would retire in 1983 and wanted to make sure that I became the boss then, so we devised a scheme mainly because if I had three years away from the TV it would have been difficult to reappear after that time and Jack didn’t want Michael Fish to be his replacement. So I agreed that I would do one day a month until 1983 when I would, subject to the BBC’s agreement, come back in charge of the team. Now the BBC thought the Met Office had agreed to this and the Met Office thought the BBC had but in actual fact the decision was mostly made by Jack and myself.”
Video Clips on the Internet
Here we present a selection of video clips featuring Bill which we found on social media sites or have made available from our own archive. The clips are presented here for additional reference. Inclusion of a video does not constitute an endorsement of the hosting site/channel/user. If you find any broken links below or are aware of an additional clip(s) which you believe may be a useful addition to this profile, please get in touch with us via our Contact page.
PICTURED: Bill Giles. SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: BBC.