If you live in England, you’re probably familiar with the Shipping Forecast, a nightly BBC radio broadcast that details the weather conditions for the seas surrounding Britain. The broadcast has been on the airwaves since 1911. And many Brits will tell you that the forecast, always read in a soporific voice, can lull you to sleep quicker than a dose of Ambien. The broadcast has a strict format. It can’t exceed 350 words, and it always begins: “And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at [fill in the time] today.” Below y0u can listen to a recording of actual forecasts. (Or catch the one from 6/29/2014 here.) Don’t listen to it while driving, or operating heavy machinery. A primer that decodes the unfamiliar terminology in the radio transmission can be found here.
All of this gives you just enough context to appreciate Stephen Fry’s parody reading of the Shipping Forecast. It was recorded in 1988, for the first episode of his radio show Saturday Night Fry. (Full episode here.) You can read along with the transcript, while listening to the clip up top:
And now, before the news and weather, here is the Shipping Forecast issued by the Meteorological Office at 1400 hours Greenwich Mean Time.
Finisterre, Dogger, Rockall, Bailey: no.
Wednesday, variable, imminent, super.
South Utsire, North Utsire, Sheerness, Foulness, Eliot Ness:
If you will, often, eminent, 447, 22 yards, touchdown, stupidly.
Malin, Hebrides, Shetland, Jersey, Fair Isle, Turtle-Neck, Tank Top, Courtelle:
Blowy, quite misty, sea sickness. Not many fish around, come home, veering suggestively.
That was the Shipping Forecast for 1700 hours, Wednesday 18 August.