Going Green

by Rachel Lyon, Production Executive at UKTV

UKTV Sustainability

November 2021

UKTV has been a member of Albert since 2014 and it has been mandatory since April 2020 for all our UKTV Original productions to be carbon neutral and sustainable. It hasn't been easy, but as we progress on our environmentally friendly journey it has become clear that the biggest opportunity to inspire change is through Planet Placement - this means raising awareness of climate change through sustainability messaging within the editorial of shows.

Leadership and support from across the business here at UKTV has been critical and having Planet Placement championed at a senior level by our Director of Commissioning, Richard Watsham and Senior Commissioning Editor Helen Nightingale has been hugely beneficial in implementing the initiative. Richard has been a regular speaker at industry webinars discussing the topic and Helen is a founding member of the UKTV Green team.

Making a success of it has involved creating positive partnerships between our commissioners and the independent producers we work with. We've been able to create a dialogue and work together rather than having to 'tell' one another what to do.

Initially it was hard to work out how to have productive conversations about sustainability during production as it often involves additional administration and logistical challenges, but we've been successful in creating positive conversations and have been able to evolve the necessary processes and ways of working.

Environmental sustainability is now a consideration at the earliest stage of development and it is a key component of our editorial specifications. Production companies must detail how they plan to reflect the climate crisis within editorial content, irrespective of genre, with the aim of inspiring audiences to live more sustainable lifestyles. This is followed up in a pre-greenlight meeting and again in our pre-production meeting where all teams involved in the show attend, such as the marketing, comms and social teams.

Planet Placement at UKTV

During production we keep the climate conversation active by requesting Planet Placement updates in our progress reports. Finally, post-production meetings provide an opportunity for the producers to share achievements and challenges. We are the first Broadcaster with a dedicated Planet Placement section in Silvermouse for all Planet Placement clips to be timecoded and logged.

Expedition With Steve Backshall

Expedition with Steve Backshall was our first carbon-neutral production and it provided numerous opportunities to portray the climate crisis and its effect on the natural world to our audiences. For example, two expeditions were filmed in the Arctic: Frozen Frontier and Ice Mountain.

The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet and by kayaking through Greenland's largest fjord system and climbing remote Arctic peaks, Steve was able to experience and demonstrate first-hand how global warming is affecting the wildlife, landscape and local communities.

Read more about how Expedition With Steve Backshall, made by True to Nature, became UKTV's first Carbon Neutral production.

You can watch episodes of Expedition With Steve Backshall on UKTV Play.

- Rachel Lyon, Production Executive at UKTV