A sunny nature

Features Posted 17/10/16
TV weather presenter Georgina Burnett reveals her love of DIY, her ability to chat about anything – and her famous university lecturer

Georgina Burnett is rarely lost for words. Whether chatting to viewers on the shopping channel about the relative values of fluffy towels and saucepans, or sharing news of the latest weather front coming our way, it’s clear she’s very much in charge of her life.

I meet Georgina in her Victorian home in Sevenoaks on a bright, late-summer’s afternoon. Her trademark long, dark hair is swept neatly over one shoulder and her scarlet, cross-over jersey dress shows off her figure to perfection. The house appears spotless and incredibly tidy, considering her 18-month-old daughter Bonnie is toddling happily around. How on earth does she do it?

She laughs easily: “I love doing things around the home. I even find DIY therapeutic!” Sickening – and I’m quite prepared not to like her. Except she’s impossible not to like. Her naturally friendly manner means we’re soon chatting like old friends.

Georgina’s face will be familiar to anyone who, like the majority of the UK population, is interested in the weather. She appears regularly on our screens as the BBC presenter sharing details about the highs and lows of our extraordinary climate. And clearly she loves it as much as we do. “Our weather is really serious,” she tells me earnestly, leaning across the wooden picnic table in her shady garden. “There are so many extremes, it’s always exciting.”

Georgina, 37, was born in Sydney, Australia, but came to England aged three when her British mum pined for the home country and persuaded the family to return. As the second of four children, she loves her brothers “to bits” and was clearly spoiled rotten by them when she was young.

A childhood in Dorset with dad spending much of his time on the beach, surfing in true Aussie style, was followed by the trauma of her parents divorcing when she was at school. Her mum now lives nearby in Kent and frequently helps with childcare.

After getting four A-levels, Georgina went to Warwick University to study English literature, while keeping up her interest in singing and amateur dramatics. At one time she had an ambition to be an opera singer, but practicality took over and when she graduated in 2000 she went to work for a private equity company – “a great learning experience”, she says.

A six-month stint with a corporate production company making sales and promotion videos morphed into a job as a freelance presenter on the shopping channel.

“It was the best possible training. You have to be able to talk about anything for any amount of time. I remember continuing to chatter madly about towel bales and pan towers, even when a fire alarm was sounding and people were leaving the building!”

By 2005, Georgina was ready for another challenge and trained as a life coach. The lessons she learned on the course made her look closely at her life and decide to make changes.

“I realised I was overweight, unhealthy and eating all the wrong things. It was time to take charge and make things happen. I started training and a year later ran a marathon.”

Georgina met husband Andy while at university and they were married in 2006, against the magical backdrop of Lympne Castle in Kent. At the time they were living in Folkestone, but the commute to London proved so tiring they looked further west and found the “virtually derelict” house they now live in.

Restoration of the seven-bedroom property has been a lengthy process, with Georgina doing much of the work. As she says, DIY is a hobby, but she always lived around home projects because her parents were keen “doer-uppers”.

So how did Georgina make her break into TV weather presenting? “I was lucky enough to get a six-month maternity cover for BBC South and I loved it. I’m convinced I was the ‘wild card’ candidate, but they gave me the chance and I made good. I realised I had to learn something about the subject, not just to be a face on the telly, reading a script.”

With her trademark enthusiasm – “when I get into something, I really immerse myself” – Georgina took an Open University course in weather studies and sat back to wait for TV opportunities.

“Nothing happened for two years. I emailed weatherman Michael Fish and metaphorically banged on the BBC’s door, then I was finally invited for an audition. I learned this was just the time they were cutting the number of presenters from one per region to one for three regions and I found myself in the team responsible for London, South East and East Anglia.”

Now Georgina is the BBC’s main freelance weather presenter, working on average two days a week, as well as providing cover for sickness and holidays. Fortunately, much of the work is at weekends, when husband Andy can take over childcare.

So what of the future? Georgina enthuses about her house restoration hobby, which she would love to develop, as well as her determination to get into the property market more seriously. She still does life coaching, both private and corporate, and is available for hire as a presenter. She also writes a blog with associated YouTube channel called “Property Porn” which shares ideas and passion about DIY.

All this juggled alongside her “mummy” duties, her love of singing and keeping the house immaculate. Busy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

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