Blue Planet II

Working Lives: Meet the sustainability manager for the BBC

Plastic pollution at Manta Point, off the coast of Indonesia (Credit: Jukka Saarikorpi)

Richard Smith has been the BBC’s sustainability manager for 10 years. He was previously an on-screen reporter for BBC regional news programmes, including Midlands Today. As home affairs correspondent for BBC South East, he reported on drugs, asylum seekers and homelessness, and won an RTS award.

Based at MediaCity UK in Salford, Smith heads a team working to raise awareness of environmental issues within the television industry and reduce the carbon footprint of programme production.

All about editing: Blue Planet II's editor on how he put together some of the show's iconic scenes

(Credit: BBC)

Like most editors, Matt Meech started out as a runner, working at a post-production house in Soho where he spent his spare time learning how to use editing software Avid.  

Matt put together a showreel which impressed his bosses enough for them to give him a job as an assistant editor. 

David Attenborough calls on the public to clean up the seas

Blue Planet II reached over 37m people in the UK alone. Following the final episode, over 60% of people surveyed commented that they wanted to make changes to their life to reduce the impact on the ocean.

The response, said Attenborough, has left him “absolutely astonished.”

“We hoped that Blue Planet II would open people’s eyes to the damage that we are doing to our oceans and the creatures that live in them.  I never imagined that there would be so many of you who would be inspired to want change.”

Blue Planet II producers describe extreme lengths crew went to for the show

(Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Professional skill, time, money and the latest camera technologies are all vital to making landmark natural-history shows. Less well known, when it comes to seeking unique footage of life deep in the world’s oceans, is how programme-makers put their health on the line.

The lengths that these men and women go to in the cause of producing iconic TV was explained in detail during an RTS event, “Diving beneath the waves – the making of Blue Planet II”.

"I don’t know if what I did was brave": Blue Planet II producers discuss extreme lengths taken for show

(Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Sarah Conner, an assistant producer on the landmark show that generated record ratings for BBC One, revealed how she had knelt on the bottom of the ocean for eight-hours at a time. There in the dark depths diving rebreathers in sub-zero temperatures she would direct cameraman Hugh Miller.  

Attenborough returns with new BBC wildlife documentary Dynasty

Dynasty (Credit: BBC One)

Each episode will follow an individual animal – lions, hunting dogs, chimpanzees, tigers and emperor penguins – at the most critical period in their lives as they navigate the world’s rapidly changing habitats.

This series will show for the first time what an animal must do to create and maintain a dynasty, and leave a legacy in nature.

Made by the team behind Blue Planet II, the most watched programme of 2017, the BBC aims to recapture its success with new ‘intimate animal dramas’.

Our friend in the West: Julian Hector

Julian Hector (Credit: BBC)

As BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit turned 60 this autumn, 2017 was a particularly exciting and busy year. But I was nervous about whether Blue Planet II would equal the impact of Planet Earth II almost a year previously.

In November 2016, Planet Earth II attracted record TV audiences in the UK; the series went on to win RTS, Bafta and Emmy awards. That sequence of racer snakes hurling themselves at hatchling marine iguanas won a Bafta for TV’s most memorable moment.