Over the summer, RTS Yorkshire held a series of “in conversation” webinars with two of the region’s leading film-makers and The Film and TV Charity’s northern manager Jo Schofield.
Walks Around Britain, which has been on air since 2016, is aimed at regular walkers but also hopes to inspire people to take up walking. “A lot of people have the idea that walking is mountains and mint cake, that you have to go to the Lake District or Scotland,” explained series producer and presenter Andrew White.
“Not everybody wants that. I think that a lot of the existing TV programmes still fitted into that genre – it was great walks with a view.”
“Our walks are a conduit to a story and that story might by nature, history or heritage. It’s not just the fact that there’s a great view at the end of [a walk] – quite often [the walks] don’t have a great view, but there’s always some reason to go there and discover something.”
Filming on the series continued during the coronavirus outbreak. “We’ve always used a small crew who are be able to remote work,” he said.
The series, which airs on a variety of channels, including Amazon Prime and many of the UK’s local channels, is funded by product placement and broadcasters. “It’s like a syndicated model in the States, where a company will make a programme and then tout it around various broadcasters. It’s quite novel in the UK,” said White.
Series producer Nova Productions also offers a Walks Around Britain subscription service.
Air TV director Matt Richards discussed how the Leeds indie has continued to make successful programmes, including the RTS Yorkshire award-winning Helicopter ER, which follows the work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, for Discovery Networks’ Really channel, and classic car series Bangers and Cash for UKTV’s Yesterday channel.
When the country went into lockdown, Air TV had finished filming 25 episodes of Helicopter ER and the third series of Bangers and Cash. “We moved into a couple of months of just post-production. We weren’t filming anything but we had a backlog of stuff to be getting on with,” said Richards.
“We’re still delivering all the programmes we were due to, on time, and the programmes are on air now.”
Richards promised “more of the same if we can”, and revealed that the indie has some new shows in development. “These are difficult times, but we will continue doing the emergency shows and long may Helicopter ER, our first programme, continue.
“We’d like to add to that, in the same way we did with moving into the motoring and nostalgia place with Bangers and Cash. They are other areas we’d like to look at and perhaps spread our wings further than the UK broadcasters. We’re looking at the international market, but will still base ourselves proudly in Yorkshire while we’re doing it.”
Jo Schofield discussed the emergency relief and mental health support that The Film and TV Charity’s has provided to the industry’s workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Schofield, who is the manager of the charity’s northern hub, said: “There’s already an existing crisis around mental health in our industry and, given the current circumstances, that’s more important than ever.
“The industry needs to reframe how it works coming out of this crisis.
“There is a real opportunity for us to examine how we work and what we can do better.”
RTS Yorkshire Chair Fiona Thompson presented the series of webinars, which can be viewed at rts.org.uk/region/yorkshire.