By charlie connelly

Attention All Shipping

The solemn, rhythmic intonation of the shipping forecast on BBC radio is as familiar as the sound of Big Ben chiming the hour. Since its first broadcast in the 1920s it has inspired poems, songs and novels in addition to its intended objective of warning generations of seafarers of impending storms and gales.

Sitting at home listening to the shipping forecast can be a cosily reassuring experience. There’s no danger of a westerly gale eight, veering southwesterly increasing nine later (visibility poor) gusting through your average suburban living room, blowing the Sunday papers all over the place and startling the cat. Yet familiar though the sea areas are by name, few people give much thought to where they are or what they contain. Charlie Connelly wittily explores the places behind the voice, those mysterious regions whose names seem often to bear no relation to conventional geography.

Of all my books this is the one that has received by far the biggest response. It was a bit of a leap in the dark given that I’d only written books about football up to this point, but a slot on BBC Radio 4′s Book Of The Week and a tie-in lecture at the Royal Geographical Society meant that Attention All Shipping got off to a flyer and is yet to come in to land more than a decade later.

Barely a week goes by even now without an e-mail landing in my inbox from someone who’s just discovered the book, and these are people of all walks of life, most of whom have no connection to the sea whatsoever. I’ve heard from people as far afield as Australia, Canada and Cambodia as well as all points of Britain and Ireland. There really is something about the shipping forecast.

Available as abridged & unabridged audiobooks

The audio version of Attention All Shipping came second in a public vote to find the greatest audiobook of all time organised by Waterstone’s and The Guardian. Romeo and Juliet was third, which Charlie takes as official confirmation that he’s better than Shakespeare.

Went down a storm with this sea lover. It has great humour, it has great atmosphere. A very entertaining read and, believe me, you’ll never see cod in the same way again.

sunday tribune


Wonderfully eccentric.

– the observer


Armchair travelling will never be the same again.

– western mail


He brings the shipping forecast to life, revealing the reality to be bizarre, quirky and fantastic.

– guernsey press


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