20 July 2024
  • 20 July 2024

Seán Batty: the Paisley born-and-bred face of Scottish weather

on 2 July 2024 0

Paisley born-and-bred, Seán Batty may have become a staple of our screens but he has never forgotten the places and experiences that made him. Here, he talks about his career journey and his plans to give back by educating the younger generations 

Just as he is on television, Seán Batty immediately comes across as an affable individual. Sitting in a local coffee shop, he comically explains that he is an “expert Gene Kelly” by now considering how many of his press shots have featured umbrellas. Essentially the face of Scottish weather, it’s amazing to think that this all started with a Christmas gift of a weather kit in a humble Paisley home. 

“When I look back to where it started,” Seán explained, “I had a teacher who was really into the environment and it was recycling but it was mainly toilet roll tubes, so maybe that’s what actually got me into this career. 

“As for the weather kit, I got that for my 7th birthday and still have it to this day. I used to torment my family by doing forecasts in front of the fridge, sometimes right in front of the television. 

“It’s actually nice because when I go to nurseries or schools to do talks, I can say ‘what is it you want to do?’ Because when I was seven, I knew what I wanted to do and I ended up doing that. 

“For me, this is like being a popstar. But, hopefully it lasts longer (laughs). We’d go round the class and I’d always say ‘I wanted to be a weatherman’ and people just laughed. Now, people who I went to primary school with message me to say ‘I can’t believe you’re doing what you said you wanted to do’!” 

Sean Batty

Photo by Max Carey

In pursuit of his dream, Seán moved away from Paisley at 18 to study meteorology at Reading University. Although it was an experience that he said was “quite traumatic”, he knew he had to stick it out to achieve his goals and now many of his classmates are also still in the industry today. 

“My mum had brought me up on her own for most of my life and I wasn’t well when I first moved down there. She drove me down and we were in floods of tears and I remember she phoned me like half-an-hour after she’d left to see how I was! I was like yeah, I’m going to the union tonight, I’ve met like five folk. At the time, Reading was the only place you could study meteorology. Thinking back, I was the only Scottish person there. 

“It’s a tight-knit family in weather,” he explained of meeting his heroes. “Michael Fish was the first person to take me and train me which was so bizarre, because he was like the rockstar of weather! He always said I was far too ITV for the BBC. Before that, I’d met Heather [The Weather] Reid back when I was 14 after pestering the Paisley Daily Express to do their weather during the school holidays. So, they took me to meet her and at the time, I was living in Morar Drive in Foxbar which was just round the corner from where she grew up. It must be the Foxbar water because for a time, Paisley had a monopoly on both channels!” (laughs)

Although he “intended to work behind the scenes” as “people on TV are only one or two percent of the whole weather workforce”, Seán started out as a weather observer and even worked on an army base in Hampshire before he found his way to television. 

Sean Batty

Photo by Lisa Forrest

“It almost happened by accident in a way,” Seán revealed. “I was working at the BBC and they said ‘do you want to do some radio’ and I basically ended up living out of a suitcase for about three years. My first job was as cover, so if the Welsh presenter was on holiday, I went there for two weeks. Yorkshire, the Channel Islands, everywhere. But, the only place I never worked was Scotland. 

“I always wanted to come back home and it wasn’t until I was in Ireland that I got the call from STV. 

After that fateful phone call, Seán Batty never looked back and has been a constant on our screens. But, despite his successful tenure on our screens and his status as one of the most well-liked men on national TV, he still doesn’t see himself in the same league as Michael Fish or his Paisley predecessor Heather. 

“I just don’t see it like that,” he revealed. “I grew up watching them and I was working on a rival station to Heather and that was just crazy to me. It’s amazing now that we can talk peer to peer and gossip (laughs). But no, I don’t think about it until people come up and say ‘I remember watching you when I was a tot’. I’m just like, ‘how can that be possible?’. But, I suppose I’ve been there 17 years in August and now that I think about it, that’s a whole primary and high school child that’s grown up. Now I’m at a point in my career where I’m looking to give back and leave a legacy.” 

Seeds were sown in lockdown with his ‘Mini Met team’ that consisted of kids who were remotely learning about weather from Seán and even got their videos shown on TV at night. 

On the back of getting thousands of kids onboard from Shetland to the borders and everywhere in between, the sense of fulfilment Seán got from that has incentivised him to do for them what that weather kit did for him all those years ago. 

“I had five-year-olds talking to me about cumulonimbus clouds or measuring rainfall and it just made me realise that they are where I was at one point. I’d have loved it if there was more stuff to engage with and through social media, we can do that.”

Fuelled by this ambition, Seán Batty has been putting his all into a series of educational yet entertaining books, the first of which will be hitting shelves soon. 

“I’ve got a book coming out in September for younger kids. It’s a Christmas title about Santa traveling the world and in it, he experiences floods, droughts, forest fires and more. I don’t need to embellish it, these are all things happening in the wintertime. It’s not scary, it’s just about him trying to navigate it and hopefully, will allow them to learn about climate change. It’s all about how they can help Santa, so it’s an early introduction. 

“For me, my two obsessions are Christmas and weather, so what better than fusing them together! Now, I’m working on factual books for older kids and even adults interested in weather. At the moment, I’m doing a book which breaks down every council region and has all the facts relevant for that area. So, if they live in Orkney, they can compare the weather in Ayrshire to see what’s different and why that is. I’m hoping to get a website where schools can buddy up and compare what’s going on.” 

Eager to use his platform for good and bringing climate change “close to home”, Seán is still that same boy from Paisley that he always was. In fact, his reasons for being a spokesperson for the Scotland Loves Local campaign all comes down to his closely-held experiences as a kid on the High Street. Now living in nearby Brookfield, Seán still not only has an immense affection for Renfrewshire as a whole, but thinks his hometown is on the up again. 

“It’s definitely going through a change,” Seán enthused. “Like most
places, it had a real dip, but I think there is a reversal of that and these small businesses we’re seeing springing up are great to see. Plus, so
many people are bringing the community in and I hope more and more of that pops up.”

Q&A with Seán Batty

Favourite Restaurant? The Boarding House in Howwood

Favourite spot for walking your dog? The Knapps, Kilmacolm 

Favourite View of Renfrewshire? The Gleniffer Braes. It’s a great place to go, especially when it’s snowing! 

To keep up with Seán Batty, follow him on Instagram

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