Dan Corbett is well used to copping flak over what the weather may – or may not – deliver. So it came as no big surprise to the TV weather presenter that it became the running joke of his wedding to Helen.
“Of course the day we got married – particularly being in Ireland – it did rain,” laughs Dan (48). “The priest came rushing into the chapel and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just had a call from the BBC that Dan Corbett is fired because he can’t even get the weather right on his wedding day!’ He had everyone in fits of laughter.”
But despite the poor weather, the UK-born pair have nothing but loving memories of the day. And as they celebrate 15 years of marriage this year, it’s a time for especially fond reflection. The tightknit duo met in 1997 when they both worked at the BBC in London. Helen (51) had a job in the make-up department and Dan was the new weatherman who liked to give her a bit of cheek while getting his face powdered.
“The first time she got her brush out, I made a real grimace and said, ‘Is this supposed to sting?’ And she knew right then she had a troublemaker on her hands,” he smiles.
“It did take us a while, though!” admits Helen, who said they kept their romance a secret for a very long time. “Some people didn’t even know we were together until we said we were getting married!” But the pair, who say their favourite thing is spending time with one another, soon found themselves caught up in the London rat-race.
“We were travelling an hour back and forth to London, and working opposite shifts,” says Dan. “It got to a point where we’d get out the calendar and find we had two nights a month to have dinner together.”
Deciding it was time for a change, the couple set their sights on New Zealand. “We’d been here on holiday and always loved it, so we applied for residency,” says Dan. Now, nearly four years later, they say New Zealand definitely feels like home.
Their first house in Wellington provided plenty of opportunities for Dan to familiarise himself with our weather, as he took up a post at the Met Service. Having been entranced by the weather as a child in New York, where his family relocated from London when he was eight, he says it was a no-brainer to go on and study meteorology.
After gaining his degree, he worked as a forecaster for pilots and industrial clients, before one day watching a weatherman on television and thinking, “I should be doing that.”
His career as a weatherman in the US saw him cover a range of meteorological extremes. Reflecting on his most hair-raising moments, he recalls his coverage of the Jarrell tornadoes of 1997. “There were five tornadoes that day – the biggest was an F5 [a rating indicating it had winds of more than 410km/h], as big as they come and a mile wide,” he tells.
“We put the warnings out on TV to get to shelter, and then a couple of days later, I drove out to Jarrell. The tornado had sucked up everything, right down to the blades of grass and the tarseal of the road. That was something I’ll never forget.”
When the opportunity came up to work at TVNZ in Auckland, Dan was excited to get back to doing what he truly loved. As were his many fans from around the globe – as well as a new audience here.
Do an internet search of Dan’s name and you’ll find many fan pages, including “That’s the Weather, For Now” which features pictures, videos and quotes by the presenter. “They call them ‘Danisms’!” he laughs.
But he’s certainly pleased there are people who enjoy his style, and Dan says he’s very much enjoying his new Kiwi lifestyle with Helen. The pair, who don’t have children, now live in Warkworth, a 40-minute drive from Auckland.
“We have a few paddocks overlooking the bay, and can wake up to cows on the lawn and birds chirping,” smiles Dan. “We can discover a new beach for a picnic or a kayak. It’s just beautiful -especially if I can get the weather right!”
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