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Everyone is interested in the weather. I want to get viewers involved; Popular television presenter Philippa Tomson has been unveiled as the new weather girl on ITV Tyne Tees and Border. In her first interview since the role was announced, she chats to LIZ LAMB about her job and her love of the North East.

Byline: LIZ LAMB

TELEVISION presenter Philippa Thomson can breathe a huge sigh of relief today.

After a period of uncertainty, when the 31-year-old and fellow workers at Tyne Tees faced losing their jobs, the ex-North East Tonight anchor was last night unveiled as the station's new weather and environment presenter.

It has been a tough time for the ex-newspaper reporter after a wave of redundancies were announced at the Gateshead-based station late last year and all staff were told their roles were at risk.

"It's been a really tough time and a really horrible time," reveals the presenter, who fronted the Tyne & Wear and Northumberland broadcasts of North East Tonight with Jonathan Morrell.

"We've got colleagues leaving, colleagues staying and whether you are staying or going it's just been a difficult process.

"When ITV announced they needed to save pounds 40m, every single person's job from top of management down to the bottom was at risk.

"Every single person had to reapply for their jobs and go through the interview process.

"Never was I told any more than anyone else that I was going to be axed.

"We are going through this new process, ITV has to save that money and it's terribly sad, but it's reality."

One thing that has kept the popular presenter going is the support of her fans on Tyneside.

Many have written to her and even stopped her in the street to express their views.

She says: "What's been so lovely, so nice and comforting, is the amount of letters and contact from people, from emails to faxes, or stopping me in the street, to offer their support.

"People were drawing their own conclusions and thought I was leaving then they read that maybe I wasn't.

"Just the other day I was in a shop in the MetroCentre and the lady serving me said 'I'm so pleased you are not going anywhere'.

"It was so nice to hear that from viewers.

"I love what I do and part of that is because of the viewers.

"You want to entertain them and it's been so nice to have their support.

"It's been lovely and it's meant a lot to me."

Philippa was born in York and trained as a journalist aged 18 at the Express and Star in the West Midlands.

She stayed there for seven years before moving to ITV Central in Birmingham as a presenter, reporter and producer and came to Tyneside in August 2006 to present Tyne Tees evening news.

Despite recent job worries Philippa was determined to stay in the North East where she has made her home.

The presenter, who lives in Gateshead, says: "At the end of the day I wanted to be in the North East. My life is here in the North East and I never had any intention of leaving and neither did ITV want me to leave.

"It was a shock when I first got the job at North East Tonight because I never expected to get the job or come to the North East, but I absolutely love it.

"I have met someone here who is North East born and bred and he doesn't want me to go anywhere. who is North East born and bred and he doesn't want me to go anywhere.

"It's such a lovely part of the world.

"I love the fact it's got its "It's such a lovely part of the world.

"I love the fact it's got its legend Bob Johnson who retired last month after 17 years in the job.

Pam Royle and Ian Payne have been unveiled as the new anchors on North East Tonight.

Philippa, who has also been doing stints on Tony Horne's show on Metro Radio, says: "I am really pleased about my new job.

"I am seeing it as a challenge and I always like a challenge.

"I just want to make it my own. Someone has already asked me if I'm going to be doing the anagrams like Bob but I just want to make it my own and think up new ways of doing weather presenting

"I will also be doing outdoor broadcasts too. If there are floods in the region again will be out there delivering the latest news.

"I love being in the studio but it will be great to do something new I'll still be covering for Pam when she is on holiday.

"I will get the best of both worlds.

"I'm going to be busy as I think I have to do 12 weather broadcasts a day."

Philippa, who does a lot of charity work on Tyneside will receive training at the Met Office before starting her new job in February.

During her stint as anchor woman on North East Tonight she reported on some of the North East's biggest stories including the troubles at Northern Rock and the Sobo family murders in Kenton The journalist says: "The Northern Rock stories were challenging and I was the reporter at the scene on the Sobo murder case.

"When it broke I was sent out to the house and was doing live broadcasts all day.

"That was a really terrible, horrible case. I won't miss news because there could be a big news story related to the weather - look at the floods - but it's just going to be challenging in a different way.

"Everyone is interested in the weather.

"I want to get viewers involved and get out on the road and meet people.

"It's going to be really interesting."

Tyne Tees regional director Graeme Thompson says: "Philippa will bring a new approach to our weather service. As a journalist and presenter, she is already well-known to viewers in the Tyne Tees region because of her work with North East Tonight. "We are delighted she will have such a high-profile role across the Tyne Tees and Border regions."

New-look news

PAM Royle and Ian Payne are to be the presenters of a new-look North East Tonight on ITV Tyne Tees.

The new programme - which has been created as a result of ITV's restructure of regional news - will launch, subject to Ofcom approval, in late February.

The two presenters have been hosting the Tees Valley edition of the news programme since 2006.

From next month, North East Tonight will cover the whole of the North East region, with a single edition broadcast from ITV's new studios in Gateshead.

Border presenter Helen Pearson will be the new face of breakfast bulletins. Correspondents will include Kenny Toal, Helen Ford, Gregg Easteal and Rachel Bullock.

Sport will be provided by Simon O'Rourke, and Gerry Foley continues in his role as political correspondent.

Reporters will be based across the North East working from bases in Billingham, Sunderland, Gateshead and Northumberland.

"I love being in the studio but it will be great to do something new. I'll still be covering for Pam when she is on holiday. I'll get the best of both worlds

CAPTION(S):

GOING GLAM: Above, Philippa who enjoys her life in the North East, and right, relaxing with her dog BG; DYNAMIC DUO: Philippa Tomson with Tony Horne whose radio show she has been guest presenting on; FORMER ANCHOR: Philippa is continuing her career at Tyne Tees but is moving from news to weather PICTURE: DAVID GLEN WALKER, PICTURE FARM AUGUST 2008
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 16, 2009
Words:1221
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