The spectacle of the UK’s Storm Eunice created a brand new British broadcasting star on Friday, in the form of an ebullient planespotter perched near the perimeter of Heathrow Airport.
Thousands tuned in to Big Jet TV on YouTube, where aviation enthusiast Jerry Dyer tirelessly commented on more than six hours of footage as pilots took turns to battle 120mph winds and bring their planes safely down onto the tarmac of Heathrow’s south runway in West London.
Those tuning in could hear Dyer delivering a very personal commentary, punctuated by such phrases as “Go on, my son” and “Bosh, get it down mate” as the planes touched down. As an Aeroflot plane appeared in the sky, he shouted, “Here come the Russians”, a phrase which soon began to trend on Twitter.
At the lunchtime peak of the storm, more than 200,000 viewers were tuning in to Big Jet TV instead of national TV and radio stations. Meanwhile, reporters from those stations queued up to interview Dyer, who could be heard negotiating times to speak to different broadcasters between commentaries.
Dyer has been running his channel since 2016. Subscribers pay around £4 a month to watch two live shows a week, and listen to commentaries from airports across the UK and Europe.
The worst of Storm Eunice had died down by the end of the day, although early estimates of the cost of its damage – including a huge hole ripped in the roof of London’s O2 arena – set it around the £500million mark. Four people were confirmed to have died in one of the worst storms to have hit the UK in decades, with thousands of homeowners left without power across the country.