Dating back to 1861, when it was transmitted using telegraph communications, The Shipping Forecast is a broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles. Produced by the Met Office, it is broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
It is incredibly popular with the British public and attracts listeners in the hundreds of thousands – far more than actually use or require it. The controller of BBC Radio 4 once attempted to explain its popularity: It scans poetically. It’s got a rhythm of its own. It’s eccentric, it’s unique, it’s English. It’s slightly mysterious because nobody really knows where these places are. It takes you into a faraway place that you can’t really comprehend unless you’re one of these people bobbing up and down in the Channel.