BBC and ITV go metric

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

Over the last few days the news on the BBC and ITV have, understandably, talked about virtually nothing but the snow.

There are plenty of other things going on in the world they could be talking about but the snow is a major event so fine.  But with the snow has come an apparent metrication of the BBC and ITV.  When they tell us how much snow has fallen it’s 10cm or 15cm.  They aren’t even giving it in inches as well for the majority of the population who don’t do metric.

Surely excluding most of the population by using only metric is a breach of the BBC charter.

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  1. Stirrer (1 comments) says:

    Is it correct to say the majority of the population ‘dont do metric’ now? Apart from the fact that roads are still in miles nearly everything has been moved from imperial for quite some time.

    Having said that I am completely happy with anomolies existing such as a persons height in feet/inches, distances and speeds in miles, beer in pints and snow depth in inches!

    ps. Thank goodness the UK isnt as backward as the yanks when it comes to this subject!

  2. steve (38 comments) says:

    Here is a helpful illistration of how things work.

  3. MetricBrit (2 comments) says:

    Everybody who’s been to school in Britain since the late 1960’s has learned metric which means that almost everybody under the age of 50 should have some familiarity of the system… so for the “majority” there is no excuse!!!

    It’s only the backlash from the tabloids and the time that’s being taken by the BBC and ITV (who, incidentally, are still using “inches” and “feet” quite well) to catch up that’s holding the real majority back and, in the process, hindering the education of the minority who, despite all evidence to the contrary, some still seem to believe are incapable of understanding the simplicity of metric!

  4. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Stirrer, according to the Department for Transport the majority of people in the UK won’t understand metric for some years to come.

    MetricBrit, I’m only 31 and I use imperial. When I went to primary school we had two different maths lessons – mathematics (metric) and practical maths (imperial). I can’t estimate measurements in metric, only imperial. And the last few days, the news on BBC and ITV have used exclusively metric measurements, no imperial.

  5. Gavin Ayling (8 comments) says:

    Argh, my eyes — broken images.

    Oh, and metric makes sense, it’s only stick-in-the-mud tradition-for-the-sake-of-tradition types who disagree 😉

  6. Gavin Ayling (8 comments) says:

    And now the images are unbroken. Which is odd…

  7. David Brown (1 comments) says:

    Um, didn’t the UK go metric in the 1970s? If anyone in this country “doesn’t do metric” then they are in breach of their responsibilities towards themself. The BBC has no responsibility to pander to the ignorant.

  8. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    The UK went partially metric in the 1970s but it’s still predominantly imperial. Distances are measured in miles, beer is measured in pints, people are weighed and measured in stones and feet. It’s only when you get into officialdom where metric is used exclusively because of various EU regulations and overzealous interpretations and enforcement of the same. There will come a time when metric is the main way of measuring things because kids aren’t even taught imperial measurements any more – they don’t know how far a mile is, how much a pint is or what a pound weighs. The British government are deliberately engineering a decline in the use of imperial to harmonise our measurements with the EU.

  9. georgeashcroft (1 comments) says:

    I don’t say it often but on this occasion I quite agree with Wonko. I can recall being in senior school about 1992-93. All of a sudden, outside temperature and other measurements were being discussed in metric.

    I can’t recall ever having been formally taught metric measures although they were used in the cookery classes which I hated anyway.

    I couldn’t imagine us ever going metric on road signs and the like, or pints of beer. I believe imperial weights and measures are still the best known in this country. This year was the first time I really noticed that snowfall was being measured in centimetres, on BBC Radio Shropshire no less. It is a scandal that our kids are not taught Imperial as well as Metric.

  10. MetricBrit (2 comments) says:

    wonkotsane, I’m 41 (yes, 41!) and I cannot remember ANY imperial measures during my education in Northampton and Milton Keynes. The only reason I have any idea of what a foot or inch are is because I’m forced to use them by those who won’t move with the times – but I weigh and measure myself in metric, as does my doctor and my gym. I never have any issues understanding these measures, and with a little help nor do any of my friends or family!

    I have no problems if you (or anybody else) want to use imperial, but the country needs a single system of measurements for “official” use so that nobody gets confused in trade, medicine or public safety. 90% of the planet use metric so it only makes sense to do so too (nothing to do with Europe!!!). You can’t even use the Americans as an excuse… their pints and gallons are smaller than ours and they can’t even decide which version of the “foot” to use (look up the “survey foot” if you don’t believe me!)

    In any case, metric was invented by a Brit whereas imperial measures were forced on us by the Romans!!!

  11. axel (1214 comments) says:

    I’m 42 next week and we did’nt do imperial at school either.

    I thought Metric was a napoleonic gag?

  12. Matthew Walker (1 comments) says:

    People who use cm to measure snow depth are I think, slightly odd. I mean 6″ sounds much better and normal than the nasal oddball stating “actually it’s 15 centimetres”. Inches are based on the dozenal system of counting rather than decimal. Way ahead and that’s a mathematical fact.

    You say you “never did imperial” at school, but didn’t any of you bother learning it yourselves? It isn’t difficult and is a necessity if you’re living in the UK (You’d feel a bit of a dimwit if the majority, around 75% of the population, spoke of a of a weight or a measure and you couldn’t understand!)

    Can you understand what, say a foot is? If not (because you didn’t learn it in school), I’m obviously wasting my time typing to a bunch of idiots.

  13. Stumps (2 comments) says:

    I do love these sorts that claim they don’t know imperial because it’s not done at school (it is) or we ‘went metric’ ages ago (we didn’t) – especially when you read opinion polls which constantly show a huge majority of the UK prefer imperial!! LOL!

  14. Steve (38 comments) says:

    I’m 51. I was in the first year of metric-only classes at my school starting in 1970. I think it unreasonable to think that “most Brits don’t understand metric” since I’m older than the average half-life-expectancy of British people. Therefore more than half the population are younger than I am, and therefore more than half the population are metric-educated.

    And quite right too. Apart from the USA who have their own system, the rest of the world spotted that the *British-pioneered* metric system was the way to go and (starting with the French revolutionaries) all adopted it. Britain claims officially to have done so too, but as we all know we haven’t really. Which means our children go to school, learn a sensible system of weights and measures intended as a basis for their future employment, but then get it all undone by their idiot parents who undermine it all.

    As for claims that “opinion polls constantly show a huge majority of the UK prefer imperial” – well what do you expect? People prefer not to have to put in any effort and therefore like to stick with what they currently do. All those poor kids whose education was wrecked by their idiot parents seem to want to stay wrecked because they can’t be bothered to fix it.

    I’m sure that in 1967 opinion polls had constantly shown a huge majority of the UK prefered pounds, shillings and pence, but in 1971 we changed to decimal anyway. I remember it. There was a year or so of discomfort getting used to it, then the old system was forgotten. If some government minister seriously proposed re-introducing pounds, shilling and pence now, they’d be lynched!

    We patriotic Brits should campaign for full adoption of our own, home-grown metric system as soon as possible. It was pioneered by Rev. John Wilkins and the founder-members of the Royal Society in 1668 or thereabouts and the system was already 120 years old by the time the French actually decided to implement it. Yet another brilliant British idea that went overseas (like the jet engine and the computer) because we couldn’t be bothered to spend a bit of time, money and effort to do it properly ourselves. Shame.


  15. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:


    I’m 31 and I was taught both but it was very clear from the name of the lessons which one was for everyday use and which one was for textbooks – practical maths taught us imperial and mathematics taught us metric. Whether you like it or not, most people in this country do not understand metric. The Department for Transport says that it will be another couple of decades until enough people are brainwashed into abandoning the tried and tested and immensely popular imperial system of measurement in favour of the EU’s preferred system of measurements.

  16. Stumps (2 comments) says:

    There we have it. The metric position. Parents are idiots. That’ll ‘forward the cause’ eh? eh? 😀

    Incidentally – I was taught French at school. And metric. I can use either now if I really have to. In the meantime……

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