Life

Saturday Q&A: How Frank Mitchell picked his 'weather name' from The Irish News deaths column

Frank Mitchell (59), UTV forecaster and presenter of U105's morning phone-in show, is stopping his weather reports at the end of March to focus on radio

Frank Mitchell, broadcaster, weather man, ex-primary teacher and erstwhile floor filler
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

Ideally spending time on the Belfast hills, on Divis and the Black Mountains. I love hill walking. It's probably the one thing I'm still fit enough to do. I was sent once for a UTV feature to learn to play golf. I had 10 lessons, still have the unused golf clubs they provided. But I played a lot of Gaelic football when young for Burren. I was a corner forward and probably didn't score as many goals as I should have done. My real name is Frank McClory and although small-minded people have suggested I changed my surname to get in with the unionists, in fact it happened when I was working as a teenager for the pirate radio station Carousel. The owner gave us all pseudonyms and was into country and western so suggested I become Frank Cash or Frank Parton. I wasn't keen and actually chose Mitchell after looking at The Irish News's deaths column.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

My weekends were taken up with two things: playing under-age Gaelic football and spending time at my aunt Mena's farm. I also played soccer for a club called Mullens. My aunt's smallholding was just outside Newry in a place called Grinan. She had eight cows, 40 chickens and it was magic.

Friday night or Saturday night?

Down the years, Saturday night felt like I was taking on the world. I used to DJ at hobby-level at discos in Warrenpoint. I was known as 'floor filler Frank' and the number that's hard to beat is Billy Ocean's Love Really Hurts Without You. Or if you were really stuck, Dancing Queen.

Do you have a must-listen weekend radio show?

I'm hopping between U105 and Talk Sport as I am a big person for sport at weekends.

What is your must-watch TV or Netflix?

For the past three or four months, it's been Drew Pritchard. People always ask me who he is – he's a Welsh guy and an antiques expert. The programme is Salvage Hunter and although our home is minimalist, after my wife Helena's taste, I admire anyone who can buy something old for £25 and sell it for £100.

Favourite eatery – or is it a takeaway?

I don't really go anywhere regularly but when I'm in town, Fish City in the city centre is good and sources food sustainably which I think is important. I'm vegetarian, well pescaterian as I do eat some fish and for a carry-out, Fusion in Finaghy is great.

Is Sunday still special?

Yes, it's the day of the week I visit my mother, Lily. She's 90 and still tells me what to do. We banter and if I took her a present every time, I wouldn't be able to repay what she's given me. My daughter Laura lives in England and has just got engaged, so it's all wine and roses now.

What feelings do you have on Sunday night about Monday morning?

For a very short period I taught PE and English in primary schools and used to dread Monday morning. I was offered a permanent post and I accepted but the next day I was offered a three-month contract at BBC Northern Ireland so I turned the post down. And I feel I haven't worked a day since!

The U105 Morning Show with Frank Mitchell runs from 9am Monday to Friday.

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