Think people don’t care she’s left the Beeb? Then think again...

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If there is to be one lesson learned over the last month, it is that you underestimate the power and popularity of the local TV weathergirl at your peril.

Take Kaddy Lee-Preston, for example.

For 11 years she served the good folk of the ever expanding BBC South East Today audience by serving up a nightly dollop of warm fronts and hard frosts.

We would usher her into our front rooms and allow her to entertain us.

She stood there as we all ate beans on toast on our laps while we pretended to colleagues “we’d rustled up a little recipe of our own”. And she never breathed a word.

She was there when the sun shone, the rain bucketed and, surely a weather presenter’s favourite moment, the snow swept in and bought the county grinding to an undignified halt. Although, admittedly, that can amount to about four medium-sized flakes.

And she always did it with a smile.

Sure, her dress sense occasionally left viewers young and old to utter ‘what on Earth does she think she looks like’ but at least it attracted a response.

She was, for many, the reason BBC South East Today was worth leaving on after the national news had finished.

She was there during the great Geoff Clark and Beverley Thompson saga when the BBC made a hedgehog look like a ball of cotton wool as they prickled over accusations they were kicking out the old to usher in the new.

Kaddy just kept on smiling and telling us the weather.

But last month she bid her audience a farewell. Out of the blue she was off and boy did her fans feel like they had lost a friend.

No word of a lie, but one of a number of letters we received on her departure proclaimed her the “south east’s greatest asset” and that since Kaddy was rudely flung off the local magazine show Inside Out, this particular viewer was refusing to add to its viewing figures ever again.

Our region’s “greatest asset”? Bigger and better even than Shaun ‘Barry from Eastenders’ Williamson or that fellow from Masterchef? Yikes.

Another spoke of how her “dulcet breezy tones” would be forever missed.

And online, the appetite for stories relating to her outweighs pretty much all other issues.

Boris Johnson could concrete over most of Tunbridge Wells, converting the spa on the Pantiles into his own private luxury bath, and ‘Disgusted’ may find himself outweighed by the pro-Kaddy crowd.

All of which will surprise many folk who will have thought the myth of the local weather presenter having a grip on the audience was as out-dated as my haircut.

On visiting the BBC studios in Tunbridge Wells once, a colleague of the weather presenter confided that the Kaddy postcards were always the ones that flew off the shelves. Even stood in the BBC store I overheard people confess their admiration for her.

If Rod Lobeck had been a pretty young thing back in TVS’ hey-day you can only imagine the heady-heights he could have reached. He would problem be PM by now.

It would, of course, be churlish to debate whether Kaddy and her ilk deserve such a place in our collective hearts. Or, indeed, how swiftly she’ll be forgotten if her efforts to return to our screens fail to deliver the results she is after.

But whatever your view on her, she was popular. And to think the public didn’t care or weren’t interested is perhaps the greatest mistake of all.


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