When it comes to viral news videos for pun lovers, there’s only one person to call: Sian Welby.
The newscaster packed an impressive 22 Ghostbusters puns — Slimer, proton packs, cast members’ names, and more — into her Monday weather report this week, and it was just the latest film-centric clip for Welby, who gained attention previously popcorn-friendly reports filled with Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Batman v Superman references.
Naturally, the movie-lovers here at EW took notice too. So, we rang up Welby via Skype on Thursday to chat about how she started doing those movie-themed reports, the fast-paced way she writes them, and to forecast which film she might tackle next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: These are so fun! How did you start doing them?
SIAN WELBY: Like most good things, it started with messing around, having a laugh — I love a good dare, I love a prank. People used to dare me to get the odd word in a forecast, just to get the word “banana” or “ninja” in there, and it got quite funny! And then I just tried to up my game a bit — I’d do a few in a row, or song titles, or TV shows. At one point, I think it’s on YouTube somewhere, I did Breaking Bad and all those kinds of shows, and Beyoncé songs, Nicolas Cage films — so I did all those kinds of things. And then we had Back to the Future Day [last fall], so I thought, “This is a great opportunity to do a real homage to that film.” It’s one of my favorites. So I did a full-on forecast for Back to the Future, and my [Twitter] followers loved it — people were playing along, people were guessing, and it went down really well with Channel 5 as well. Whereas before I used to have to hide it from my bosses, now there were like, “Oh, this is pretty cool, we love this!”
Then when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out in the U.K., I thought I really should do something for it. But I have to admit, I probably did it about 10 minutes before my broadcast. So I didn’t have time to really prep! I had already written my weather script, and I got everyone shouting — I said, “Tell my anything to do with Star Wars!” People were shouting out, “Make sure you say Wookiee,” and “stormtrooper,” and I was trying to fit them in. I think because I didn’t overthink it, and I didn’t have time to dwell or rehearse it too much, it came out as natural as possible and it just seemed to really strike a chord with everyone! Everyone loved how subtle it was, and I didn’t smile or make it too cheesy. And that was the start really of what’s now become my career! [Laughs]
When you write these, your scripts still need to actually (and accurately) report the weather. So how far in advance can you really plan them?
In all honesty, you can’t really prep the scripts. The night before, I tend to brush up [on the movie]. When I did a Harry Potter one, I hadn’t seen the films in a while and I always try to really make sure it is packed — that there are subtle references for the real fans and then there are obvious ones for everyone who wants to play along. So I do a bit of research normally, but really it comes down to the morning of the forecast. At the end of the day, I like it to fill that purpose of being factual and if someone watches it and doesn’t know, they still get their forecast, but the superfans see it’s riddled with their favorite puns. So the final script really happens about 10 minutes before I go to air.
We counted, and you got 22 references into your Ghostbusters one. Is that a record? Have you been keeping a running tally of how many you get in each one?
I don’t know how many were in the Harry Potter one but for a broadcast, the last one was Batman v Superman and I think there was 20 in that one. Twenty-two is a record, yeah!
Seeing them go viral — that people around the world are watching them — what’s that like?
I have to say, it has blown my mind. What started off as a small dare, a bit of fun in the office, has really escalated and gone global. I’ve had people all over say that they’ve seen me on their news or their radio show — it’s been very humbling, and the nicest thing is, you never know how these things will go down. Especially with cult-favorite movies — I had a fear that people could hate it, they could be like, “You’re ruining it!” or, “That’s so obvious,” I didn’t know what people would say. But I would honestly say 99 percent of people have been so positive that it’s been a lovely thing for me to have such nice feedback and that people are really enjoying it.
Have you given any thought to what your next one might be?
I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, to be honest. I always get requests for Game of Thrones, and I think I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t watched it! It’s one of those things were I got so far behind … I’ve got to set aside a year or something to catch up before the next season comes out. But that’s a popular one, and people have also said the new Suicide Squad movie, so that could be cool. I love to do the comic book movies, they tend to go down really well. But the key is I don’t want to do them to the point where people are bored of them — I like to leave a decent enough gap in between where people are looking forward to the next one and not thinking, “Ugh, not another one!”