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F factor became the holy grail of news, weather, and current affairs broadcasting on British television in the early 1980’s. Before this time, British television presenters, particularly newscasters, were typically late-middle-aged, serious-looking men — essentially wise and concerned fatherly types. And the weather was presented by actual meteorologists. However, as the number of available TV channels grew, the rigors of competition for ratings demanded a new approach. Hence the new reliance on the F factor, with the F of course standing for fuckability.

Basically, if a presenter had no F factor, they were history. Out went the old men and dowdy middle-class matronly types; in came the knowing boyish smiles, the twinkling eyes, the daring neckties, the hairdos. And now the word 'weathergirl' is practically a term of abuse in Britain, where it has become synonymous with pretty but otherwise untalented females.

The rise of the F factor was primarily documented in the British satirical magazine Private Eye, which has close links with the British media, and which is often sent information (and, it must be said, disinformation) by anonymous sources within the newspaper and television industries. The F factor, it turns out, was very real, and while (obviously) it did not actually find its way into the written policy of the broadcasters, it is well known that the term was used freely in policy meetings at the time, and as such represented the expression of a revolution in the presentation of news in the UK.

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