Friday 22 February 2019

Nuala Carey: Smiling whatever the weather

Emily Hourican

Nuala Carey has taken a dignified swipe at the kind of stereotyping that sees women on TV reduced to the sum of what they wear and look like - "People forget weathergirls aren't just pretty faces" - but, being Nuala, she has done it in a reasonable and thoughtful manner. "I do understand it. A man on TV is just wearing a suit, visually, there is more to take in when you're looking at a woman. But all the same . . . " All the same, indeed.

Over 15 years in RTE now, and Nuala - who's from Monkstown, Co Dublin - still remembers the moment she first heard that becoming a weather presenter was a possibility. "I worked in radio at the time, with AA Roadwatch, and I was waiting to go on and deliver the traffic report on Morning Ireland. There was a review of the papers happening before me, and I heard through the headphones that RTE had decided to let people other than meteorologists present the weather, and I remember thinking, 'I could do that!'"

And indeed she could. There were screen tests, of course, and interviews, but Nuala, who'd done a a degree in UCD before working for the AA, sailed through, and got the job. "In our house, watching the weather was sacrosanct," she chuckles. "I felt I could do it, and I really wanted it, so I was delighted when I got it." That was in 1999, and Nuala's grandmother had quite recently died. "Her two favourite programmes were Weather and Lotto, so I feel she must have done something for me."

Down-to-earth, calm, sensible, trustworthy -these are the things that characterise Nuala as a presenter, and so it is no surprise that Lotto should be her second gig. As she says, "it is similar to the weather in that you are giving people information, it's not about you. People have to trust you and have faith in you. And the Lotto is lovely, you're changing someone's life as you call out those numbers."

Last year, Nuala got a chance to do something that has long been an ambition; "I always wanted to present Winning Streak, just once, and I got the chance last October, and I really loved it. I never have a co-star in what I usually do, and that night, Marty Whelan was lovely to me. When you're on screen on your own all the time, people don't know if you're a chatty person. I'd like to be able to show that side of me more."

So what else would she like to do? "I really enjoy Operation Transformation. I like trying to be healthy, going for walks and runs myself, and in those few weeks, you see the huge difference the programmes makes to people's lives. It's Kathryn Thomas's job, but if she ever wanted a night off, I'd gladly step in." Something like the BBC's One Show appeals too.

She's not sure if she will be doing the Rose of Tralee again this year - Nuala judges the Dublin heat - because of scheduling, but she is a staunch defender nonetheless. "I really enjoy it. People criticise, but you can see the girls who win: well-educated, articulate, confident. It was never just about how you looked, that's what makes it different."

As for a relationship, having kept the nation entertained with her dating antics, relayed via the Mooney show a couple of years ago, Nuala is now deliberately low-key. "I don't really talk about it any more," she laughs. "I spoke about it on the Late Late Show, and you can't get any higher than that." Right now, she's busy, as always; training for the mini-marathon on top of work - she's an ambassador for cystic fibrosis - and, "like everyone else in the country, hoping for a good summer." So, what does she reckon? "That's like asking me for tomorrow's six Lotto numbers! It's impossible to tell this far out. But I'm an optimist, we've had two pretty good summers, so I'm hoping for three in a row. It makes my job a lot easier, when the weather is good, people thank me for it!"

RTE Weather is on daily. Lotto is on Wednesdays and Saturdays on RTE1

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