The wilful yoonidity of a mind that thinks small

Some things look small because they’re far away. Some things look small because the BBC chooses a perspective that makes them look small. Some things look small because they are small. And some small things are small because they have to fit within the brain case of a yoonatic journalist. Atoms are tiny, but they’re made up subatomic particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons are themselves made up of even more miniscule elementary subatomic particles, like quarks, antiquarks, and leptons. And elementary subatomic particles are made up of the tiniest thing in the known universe, the intellect and imagination of a Westminion.

Today on social media, the usual suspects in the spannerbag of Scottish media yoonettes mocked an SNP MP for pointing out that Scotland looks disproportionately small on the BBC weather map. How stupid is he, eh eh, they joked with one another. Of course it’s small because the world is a globe. How dumb is that? But your TV screen isn’t a globe, it’s a two dimensional surface, and there are recognised ways and means of representing the surface of a sphere on a two dimensional surface. When you spend your career looking for ways to attack the Scottish government, it’s easy to miss out on geometry lessons, never mind cartography.

For reasons best known to its metrocentric self, the BBC has chosen to use a non-standard map projection for its weather maps. This has the effect of making Scotland and the north look tiny and making London and the south look much larger than they really are. On the BBC weather map, the south of England is disproportionately large. This annoys some people who are convinced it’s part of a BBC plot to diminish Scotland. It’s not a plot. However the BBC weather map also annoys more reasonable people who are convinced that it was just some BBC graphics wheeze to represent a globe implemented by a corporation which didn’t give a toss that what they were doing was presenting a point of view to the rest of the country which privileged the south of England, and then calling themselves a national broadcaster. Symbols are important, you’d think that a media corporation ought to know that, and the BBC’s southern-centric weather map has become a symbol of the centrally controlled BBC’s London-centric attitudes.

Map projections are means of displaying the surface of a three dimensional sphere on a two dimensional surface like the page of a book, or indeed a television screen. If you tried to stick the surface of a sphere down on a flat surface, you’d end up with a crease the size of the arsecrack into which the Labour party in Scotland has so recently vanished. To get around this, the map can be distorted in various ways. Some map projections like Mercator stretch out areas as the map approaches the poles so that Greenland appears larger than Australia when in fact it is smaller. Other projections show equal areas at the expense of foreshortening. The BBC’s weather map doesn’t use a projection familiar from an atlas, it uses an idiosyncratic projection which some geek in their design department thought looked modern.

And here’s where our small minded yoonidities only show their own ignorance when they mock those who point out that Scotland looks small on the BBC weather map. But it’s a sphere they say, and go off on tired riffs on a Father Ted sketch. What they forget, or more plausibly never understood in the first place, perhaps because they’re genetically programmed to knee-jerk scottiscoff, is basic geometry. From the point of view of someone looking down on the surface of a sphere, any point on the surface of that sphere can be equally distant – it all depends on the point of view which is chosen in the first place. But then it’s easy to overlook that when your chosen point of view is a cringey one. Since their default position as Scottish yoon media loveys is that the Scottish media is too wee too poor and too provincial to report on global affairs, then grasping the properties of a globe is clearly going to be beyond them. We should be kind, because it is cruel to mock those with learning difficulties.

The BBC chooses to display a map showing a view of the UK from a point in space somewhere off the southern coast of England. They could, if they wanted, have chosen to depict the UK from a point in space somewhere above central England, northern England, or even Scotland. But they didn’t want to do that. They chose a view which gave prominence to those parts of these islands which are most important to managers in the BBC, and that would be London and the south of England. Scotland looks small on the BBC weather map because it’s far away from London.

The BBC weather map isn’t very important in the cosmic scheme of things. It’s a symbol of the lack of consideration that the BBC has for the places that the news announcers call “where you are”. The BBC spends risible amounts on ‘regional’ broadcasting, and artificially boosts the amount which it does claim as spent on ‘the regions’. Network programmes are packaged as ‘regional’ and the BBC claims that this counts towards fulfilling their commitment to producing Scottish programming. That’s how shows like Waterloo Road, about an English school following an English curriculum full of English kids and English teachers, just happens to be set in Greenock.

From the weather map perspective of the BBC, Scotland is very much a small and insignificant region, a tiny place far far away. The weather map itself isn’t important, but what the BBC weather map has come to represent is the lack of consideration for Scottish broadcasting, the lack of funding for Scottish broadcasting, and the London control of Scottish broadcasting. The perspective of the BBC weather map symbolises all those things, and they are very important indeed. Ignoring that, and focussing on the map itself, that’s the typical wilful yoonidity of a mind that thinks small because it is small.

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48 comments on “The wilful yoonidity of a mind that thinks small

  1. There’s another point to the visuals put out by the BBC that show Scotland as a tiny appendage away far off in the north – anyone seeing it at a tender age (and even not so tender) will have that portrayal of Scotland’s relative size taken on board subconsciously as a mental image reflecting the truth, when it so obviously doesn’t. All the better to ram home the “too wee” part of “too wee, too poor and too stupid”, eh?

  2. I’m not long in from a night in the rubadubdub.
    The BBC weather map as far as I can see is taken from a satellite somewhere above Riec sur Belon in Brittany. Sussex Essex and the ‘Home Counties’ are huge, and Scotland a mere isthmus to the North.
    BBC Scotland twists this graphic even more tortuously. Ireland is ‘under ‘ Scotland, and O&S is to the NW.
    Our infants are sold a map of Scotland that is barely recognisable. BBC Scotland, how about the standard Map from the British war movies of the ‘fifties like ‘The Cruel Sea’, or ‘The Man Who never Was’? You know the one. Where Scotland was to the North, and had a land mass greater than England?
    The map which we oldsters recognise?
    More tomorrow. And so to bed.

  3. […] Source: The wilful yoonidity of a mind that thinks small […]

  4. macart763M says:

    Gotta say I haven’t looked in on the Beeb for a couple of years for general programming. Tend to watch recommends on iplayer if necessary, so things like changing graphics don’t even cross my horizon.

    Having said that, the last para sums it all up perfectly for me from what I remember of them. A general lack of consideration. The geographical center of any metrocentric broadcasters world can be found round a table or on a couch dependent on channel of choice, discussing really, really important stuff such as tweeting demi celebs brown nosing each other for what seems endless segments. Look over here, not over there TV.

    Their collective knowledge about what happens outside that bubble?

    A mix of spectacular, colossal ignorance and insensitivity married to an attitude of sneering condescension that can only be cultivated in that most rarefied of atmospheres. Oh and don’t get me started on daytime TV shows with Z listers discussing politics or social issues (half fat skinny latte in hand) roared on by a baying studio audience. A broadcasting equivalent of reading the Mail (shudders).

  5. Simon Taylor says:

    Got to agree. However I think your giving the BBC too much credit as many of its Journos have never ventured North of Watford and don’t have a clue as to what the real world looks like.
    From a practical view anyway the map is useless as the perspective means the weather in Scotland is the same if your in Dumfries or Dingwall

  6. JimW says:

    To open the eyes of the BBC to the truth of their map they would need to be shown a reverse projection, using exactly the same formula, but looking north to south. The resulting view of the UK from a satellite somewhere over the Faroe Islands would show them just how ridiculous their map appears to us. I am sure someone out there could do it.

  7. Anne Bruce says:

    Jim W, I would pay for a poster of the reverse projection. I would love it framed on my wall. It would give me no end of satisfaction to see the opposite of what we are dished out. I hope someone does produce it.

    I no longer put up with the BBC or its tax preferring to give the £145+ to worthier causes.

  8. Wullie says:

    Get a flat map of the U.K. Properly scaled, cut out the Scotland bit and place this part over England you will be very very surprised at the size of Scotland. Cut out Wales for a bigger surprise, then add in all the land mass of the Scottish islands and Wow !! to wee my arse.

    I wish I had your skill at expressing my anger.

  9. Dan Huil says:

    The bbc is beyond redemption. Don’t pay the bbc tax.

  10. fairliered says:

    The projection used to produce the BBC weather map is the same projection used to produce yoon politicians – small minds and big erses.

  11. BrianD says:

    The BBC weather map constantly annoys – not just from a ‘too wee too poor’ political perspective – it’s just plain wrong.

    Actual distances :

    Stranraer to John O’Groats : 370.8 miles

    Carlisle to Dover : 373.3

    And what about Stranraer to Skaw in Shetland : 516.1 miles

    Our wee country is shown approx half it’s representative size.

    The BBC weather map is not a map – it’s an infographic showing UK attitude to Scotland.

  12. says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.

  13. gavin says:

    The view from the Scottish Tory RuthieTank* love-in—

    ” That some Luxemburger, with a name like a German bomber, can determine our future, I find really unacceptable”

    These wee Brit Nat “SEPARATISTS”, with their “NARROW NATIONALIST” grievance outlook, are pathetic.

    • Craig P says:

      ‘A name like a German bomber,’ oh the irony, when the royal family’s real name is Saxe-Coburg Gotha. They changed it to Windsor during the Great War because the German Gotha bomber was dropping bombs on the English countryside…

  14. Symbolism matters – and this is what the BBC weather map projection is all about.

    Symbolism changes ideas into realities and establishes new norms. London and the south-east dominates the UK – politically, economically, culturally – so why not enshrine that view symbolically by showing a maps in which London and the south-east dominates geographically too.

    When this new map was introduced ten years ago there was an outcry to which the BBC responded “We feel it gives audiences the extra clarity and detail they have told us they want”. Really?

    And, of course, they added for good measure “”Our various national and regional forecasts will also continue to provide detailed analysis of the weather in specific areas.” – or as it’s known “the weather where you are”.

    But it goes much further that that. The north-west of Scotland and the northern isle get battered by storm force winds every other week during the winter. The power goes off, transport links get cut, structural damage gets done. Yet barely a mention on the news. But when someone farts in London it’s top of the bill.

    The weather map is just part of a bigger picture of denigrating the significance and aspirations of other parts of the UK – trivial when looked at in isolation maybe but all part of a “drip, drip, drip” effect of putting us down a notch or two.

    “Who do we think we are?” is the recurring theme – sadly adopted by many Scots themselves who see nothing wrong in doing down their own nation.

    • Ealasaid says:

      Your point about the weather warnings for Scotland is a good one. I no longer watch TV but as someone who enjoys the out doors I often find the distorted weather maps hard to read.

      Weather symbols, temperatures etc. in the north of England actually block the flattened view of Scotland and I have no idea what area they are meant to cover. Is it the whole of Scotland or just the borders or only the north of England? Is it only the mountainous areas or lower lying areas as well? I just find them utterly useless and I am sure it gets worse the further north you get.

      I changed to other sources for the weather many years ago. I find BBC weather forecasts for Scotland not fit for purpose.

      Thanks for another great post Paul.

  15. Golfnut says:

    Scotland, with its territorial waters included is the same size as Germany, too wee – nah, too poor – England bankrupt when leave, too stupid – well some maybe.

  16. Tony Little says:

    Map from the perspective of Scotland. Looks rather different!

  17. kailyard rules says:

    This is your best to date IMO. Can somebody ,or group, with professional skills please produce a large poster showing the correct scale etc.. A worthwhile PR/propaganda project for Indie. A fundraiser too. Put me down for half a dozen.

    • KR, I’ve just accessed ‘The News Where You Are’ for the umpteenth time.
      Never before would I thought it possible to cry tears of laughter rage and defiance all at the same time. A work of genius.
      As I have observed some time ago on the hegemony of the Beeb, before I retired, my boss, who remains a close personal friend, now settled in genteel retired poverty in Bolton, texted me to thank me for agreeing to do a piece of ‘you could save my life’ work in Manchester, or as he described it, ‘the North West’.
      I replied expressing my confusion, and asking what business we had in Ullapool?
      I spent the thick end of my working life travelling these islands, mending pots and pans, sharpening garden shears, selling clothes pegs, and tarmacadaming driveways; I have many dear friends and ex colleagues living throughout theses islands.
      Like the mystery of the Yorkshire Ridings (there’s only 3, not 4), English folk seem quite happy to describe Manchester Bolton Liverpool, Lancaster, Preston, Blackpool, and so on, as ‘the North West’ and anything above as, ‘the Lake District?’
      Whereas Newcastle, Durham, and so on is ‘the North East’? And Birmingham and Nottingham are ‘the Midlands’?
      HS2 will run from London to ‘the North’. ‘The North’ being Manchester and across the Pennines to Leeds, and back down again.
      And we are paying for this Up Here on the Isthmus of Scotlandshire?
      The BBC maps illustrate this ‘Home Counties’ mental set.
      The Holy London Empire is the centre of the Known Universe. Like it or lump it. If you want to get on, Puss and Boots it down to the ‘capital of the UK’.
      Tomorrow morning, two of my favourite SAG’s (Scottish Anglified Gentlemen) Andrews Marr and Neill will dominate Sunday Morning BBC TV. A review of the London Papers, what’s happening in Whitehall, a wee romp through the Westminster Bubble, and an unashamed advert for the latest Drury Lane smash..or whatever.
      WE are out here in the Wilderness. If it’s not happening in London or the Home Counties, it is not worth mentioning. Unless of course it’s bad news.

    • There is an excellent article, with maps, about the BBC weather maps, in IScot magazine, this month’s edition.

  18. It was my MP Paul Monaghan that was disgustingly ridiculed on Twitter about this! I was steaming!! He didn’t make any unseemly comments, just asked why the EBC did this! I was appalled at the bile and hatred shown in the comments!!!

    • Jan Cowan says:

      Dr Paul Monaghan is also my MP Sheryl and not only is he a hard-working, dedicated MP, he’s a caring person. These silly, small-minded people who tried to ridicule him are not worthy of consideration. We KNOW we voted for the best person and that’s all that matters.

  19. I’m with the WGD and my Neolithic forbearers on this one.

    Currently, this is the map of the world that I experience and inhabit on a day to day basis:
    This jpg (if i could insert it) would show Scotland rotated 180 degrees with Northern Ireland and Northern England from newcastle to Cumbria.

    Of course, ALL MAPS ARE POLITICAL – just ask Descartes.

  20. Tinto Chiel says:

    “Tomorrow morning, two of my favourite SAG’s (Scottish Anglified Gentlemen) Andrews Marr and Neill will dominate Sunday Morning BBC TV.”

    And don’t forget, Jack, that through the week we have Scotland’s Third Man, the Sultan of Smug’n’ Sneer, our own Eddie Mair.

    Are we the only country in the world that produces such Gruntfuttocks?

  21. I was chatting to a girl in Edinburgh before the Indyref. She was a Hungarian working in a T-shirt shop on Cockburn Street. She said she was going to vote NO, because she thought Scotland was too wee.

    I said, ‘What do you mean, too wee?’

    She said, ‘Well when you look at the size of it compared to England, it’s too wee to do well on its own’.

    I was flabbergasted. I said, ‘Well Scotland is bigger than many many independent countries, Luxembourg, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland. Lots more!’

    She was unconvinced. Then the penny dropped. The BBC – weather map!

    I told her that if she was basing her perception of Scotland’s size on the BBC weather maps, that was fatally flawed as the BBC deliberately shrunk Scotland. She looked at me askance, as if I was mad. ‘The BBC don’t do things like that!’ she said.

    I also advised her if you vote NO, there is the possibility England will Brexit the EU taking Scotland with it so she might want to reconsider as a YES vote would keep Scotland in the EU . Again she scoffed at this.

    I wonder if she is still scoffing at Brexit!

    So that was at least one NO vote based on the BBC weather ‘map’.

    ‘Honey, I shrunk Scotland!’

  22. Archie Maclean says:

    In order to appreciate the BBC perspective, the weather presenter should also be shown in the same way i.e. tiny head, enormous legs & feet😂😂

  23. davidbsb says:

    An irritation all my driving life is road map books. I have a French one, and a German one. In school I read from the top of the page, and from left to right. Both the French and the German books start at the top, Northern end. The “British” ones always start at the bottom.

    In the end after years of frustration I did get a Scotland book of maps which follows the natural convention and starts at the top.

    Its all part of the yoon propaganda.

    And F#ck their flag on packets. Its a giant buy another brand sign to me.

  24. Bill Dale says:

    When the Met Office introduced the computer software for producing weather forecasts, removing the human intervention of the weather forecaster, I challenged the Met Office on their claims for the new software, particularly their spurious levels of accuracy and their representation of Scotland as small and remote.

    After countless emails back and forth I was phoned by a senior Met Office representative, a very mathematically clued up lady, who agreed that my scientific points were valid, but that this was what the public wanted, even if the forecasts had spurious detail beyond the possibility of forecasting.

    Oh, and it was what the customer wanted and they had to keep the customer happy. The customer? The BBC!

  25. bjsalba says:

    In terms of accuracy BBC weather forecasting quite franky sucks – and that is without considering the distortion in the mapping. For my area they literally get about 90%+ totally wrong.

    I use with my postcode. Pretty good for about 2-3 days ahead.

    I believe there are lots of others. Look around.

  26. craigevans15 says:

    I gave up raging in the end and use the weather forecast at the end of the early evening news to see what the weather is like in France! Very useful for travel planning.

  27. David says:

    There’s no scientific justification for using some weird “view from the south” projection. All projections are compromises, but with dynamic map views you’re not limited to choosing one specific projection; tools like Google Earth or Marble ( show how you can dynamically reproject maps to show them in a more realistic way. Even if you can’t do that for technical reasons (which is extremely unlikely), many projections can be tuned to ensure that most areas are represented reasonably, especially for an area the size of the British Isles. It may not have been a political decision to tune the projection so badly in favour of the south of England, but if it looks like one then that’s what counts for many people.

    I don’t know who does the weather graphics for the BBC. It may be in-house, or it may be outsourced to a company that specialises in weather visualisation. It seems like parts of the TV weather service is something else that has fallen victim to so-called market-driven reforms, as the UK Met Office discovered last year:

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