TV PRESENTER Alex Bersford is one of the most familiar faces on ITV Weather. He’s also a living example of forging your own luck and taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.
The 39-year-old Bristolian has had quite a year and is probably even more well known now than at any point in his ascent. For those who aren’t aware, he’s been in the mix for over 15 years – and it all started with a job at the old Kiss FM.
“[In] August 2004 I stepped through the doors of ITV in Bristol. They say you make your own luck, and, well – I was just a bit lucky with timing I guess,” Beresford explains to The Voice.
“To take it back a bit before I joined ITV I was working for a radio station called Vibe 101, which is now Kiss FM, and I was just doing all of the street team stuff, having a good time.
“I had not long finished university, I didn’t want to get a proper job and wanted to take a bit of time out. While I was there, I got friendly with someone that read the news for Vibe 101. One day they got a phone call from a friend of theirs who worked at ITV saying they needed someone to read the autocue, just freelance a couple of afternoons a week.”
He adds: “I called the lady at ITV and we just hit it off over the phone. The next thing I knew I was told to come in the next day so she could talk me through it. I asked her about the interview and she said it was OK, she had a good feeling about me, I’d be fine and she thought I’d be right for the job.”
Reading autocue projected Beresford on to this journey. He’d always had a desire to be on screen. At university he studied English Studies and Performance Arts, but even that was as a fallback in case he didn’t get where he wanted to in media.
“I started doing the autocue, which I grew to love, but I always had a burning desire to be on the other side of the autocue. I always knew I wanted to be a presenter, I always knew I wanted to be on camera before I got to ITV. So when I got to ITV I thought I need to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Offering to do work experience and extra hours with the production company in the same building as ITV and generally making himself available in order to ‘learn as much as he could didn’t go unnoticed.
“Luckily, the series producer of one of the programmes that ITV were making took a shine to me and thanked me for volunteering. I knew I wasn’t going to get paid on the shoots but I was going to learn – and that made it worth doing.
“At the end of the series she gave me a craft cameraman for half an hour, and said, ‘Go and shoot your showreel’. I was like, ‘Wow, thanks’. I scripted it and she basically helped me put my first showreel together. She even got one of her editors to edit it for me.
“One funny thing was when the editor was putting my showreel together he said, ‘Yeah, it’s OK, but it’s not great.’ I was like, ‘Wow, he cut me down’. I’ll never forget that day.”
Six months after sneaking the finished showreel DVD into the office of the top boss, Beresford got a tap on the shoulder. “As I walked into the boss’s office my face was paused on her TV screen. She asked me what my DVD was all about and I explained that I wanted to be a TV presenter.
“I told her I wanted to find out who the right people were to know before I made my move and this is me making my move. She said she really respected the way that I had done things and told me there was something coming up in a few months’ time that she would like me to consider applying for. I waited another six months and it was the weather job, starting off regionally.”
Beresford says doing the weather allowed him to do something that was ‘fun while having a serious element to it’. A man of substance and still with his feet on the ground, Beresford says being a role model to young people up and down the country fills him with the biggest sense of achievement.
“Obviously I am really aware of my position and I am really grateful for everything that has happened so far in my career. I know that I have worked a lot. I always say to kids – because I go into a lot of schools up and down the country – that it’s really important to work hard when you’re young.
“It’s a really short time in your life but it really does set the foundation for the future. There’s probably people in any room that witnessed their par- ents waking up and going to work to do jobs they just don’t want to do because they need to earn some money.
“I always say that you spend more time at work than you do with your family, so why don’t you do something you really enjoy if you’re going to be away from your family? For me, getting up and going to work everyday isn’t work. I don’t ever get that feeling in the morning where I am trying to find excuses for not going in, like a lot of people do.”
Inspired by his English mother and Guyanese father, Beresford says he learned to develop a work ethic during his teens. “My parents have been the biggest support in my network. I was quite lucky in that I felt I had a bit of balance. Bless my mum because she used to just say, ‘Whatever you do, don’t commit crime and don’t do drugs’. My dad was the one who would push me and said I had to try and do this or that, so I never felt I could disappoint them.
“I guess watching my dad get up everyday for work at half past five in the morning was an example to me. He taught me things without evening expressing them verbally.
“At the age of 14 I went and got my first Saturday job working in a sports shop just for a couple of hours, just because I wanted to hustle. I just knew that going to work was what you did. My dad has retired now but he was an engineer for British Aerospace.”
Recognised pretty much wherever he goes, Beresford, says: “The love I get shown is probably the best bit. Some- times I get overwhelmed by people coming up to you, young people coming up to me telling me they watch me and bigging me up, telling me to keep doing what I’m doing.
“The love from the community is great, especially because I am still in the community, where I live, people still see me. There’s no one in Bristol who can say they haven’t seen Alex for years because he’s off doing his TV thing. I’m still accessible.
“That’s important to me be- cause I love my culture and I want to be around it as much as possible.”
He’s the face and voice of Channel 4’s popular returning series World’s Weirdest Weather and Britain’s Most Extreme Weather and some of his career highlights include reaching the semi-finals of Dancing on Ice and being flown out to America by Channel 4 straight after an EF5 Tornado hit Oklahoma back in 2013 to make a fast turnaround documentary, Super Tornado.
“I’m lucky to have been doing this for quite a long time, what I would say was quite a long time – I joined ITV in 2004. I feel blessed, but there is still more to do,” he says. “I’d like my own show one day, a talk show, I like talking to people. One day I feel that is something that I will do. God willing.
“If there was only one thing I would be remembered for I’d like it to be for being real. For being the person that helped people, that’s really important to me because there are a lot of people that just do them. If I wanted to, I could just do me but for me it’s not about that. I get a lot of joy from helping other people.”