Greening wildlife TV

The irony of natural history enjoying a TV golden age while the wildlife it features enters a dark age was not lost on the panel at an RTS event on sustainable film-­making in early December.

Natural history is “making huge amounts of money while its subject matter goes extinct” was the succinct summary of Tom Mustill, a producer/director and owner of Gripping Films, which makes campaigning, low-­carbon films about the environment.

Sustainable TV – myth or reality?

The rocketing cost of energy will reinforce the drive to ensure that programme-­making is sustainable and that the TV industry hits its target to have net zero carbon emissions by 2030. That was one of the takeaways from a recent RTS event, “Sustainable TV studio production – myth or reality?”, which was held over Zoom to reduce its carbon footprint.  

The panel pondered everything from recycling and working with cardboard sets to reducing travel and helping suppliers to go green.  

Sustainable TV Studio Production - Myth or Reality?

Is the TV industry doing enough to improve the sustainability of studio production? An expert panel dives deep into the studios to find out.

Caroline Cooper, Chief Operating Officer, Sky Studios

Steve Smith, Executive Producer & Sustainable Production Consultant, Picture Zero 

Michelle Whitehead, Special Projects Manager, Albert

Philip Holdgate, Head of Production Sustainability, ITV Studios

Chair: Alex Farber, Deputy Editor, Broadcast 

TV’s green pledges move up a gear

The year 2021 is likely to be seen in future as the point when UK broadcasters and producers finally got serious about mitigating their impact on climate change.  

From practical steps to shift production on to a sustainable footing to ­weaving environmental issues into storytelling and helping audiences to understand what’s at stake – all formalised in the Climate Content Pledge announced at Cop26 – TV’s green ambitions have never been more apparent.  

TV’s war on carbon

Bang (credit: S4C)

Many TV producers have been making great efforts to cut their carbon footprint over the past few years. There is still much more to do behind the camera, but more attention is now being given to environmental messages on-screen. 

The panel assembled for an RTS Cymru Wales event this month boasted the two winners of the Edinburgh TV Festival Green Award. Roger Williams’s bilingual cop series Bang won the inaugural award in 2020, while Sky Sports, represented on the panel by its manager for responsible production, Jo Finon, won this year. 

How green is our telly?

“No one takes a taxi without me knowing about it. Every little bit of movement gets tracked. I have a lot of spreadsheets and things are always being added, so I never take my eye off any of it.”

Alison Sill, a freelance production co-ordinator fresh from the set of BBC TV drama Guilt, filmed on location in Edinburgh, is bubbling with anecdotal evidence of just how much effort she and her team have put into hitting their sustainability targets.

How to cut TV’s carbon footprint

Each hour of television produced leaves a ­carbon footprint of 9.2 tonnes, which is the equivalent of two households’ annual consumption. This startling figure is the average across all genres – quadruple it for drama.

That was the top line given by Roser Canela Mas of Albert, the pan-industry body set up to help make television production sustainable, at an RTS panel discussion, “Producing sustainable TV – myth or reality?”.