Posted on 13th June 2019

Find out what made this the greenest Dr Who series

The ‘greenest’ ever series from the long-running BBC drama.

The Doctor Who Christmas 2017 episode on BBC1 continues to display its sustainability credentials on-screen with the ‘albert Sustainable Production’ end credits logo. This green stamp reflects the ways in which the production team are striving to work greener.

This series is made at the BBC Drama studios at Roath Lock in Cardiff which was the first building in Wales to receive a BREEAM outstanding environmental standard when it was built in 2011. Solar panels, rain water harvesting and efficient insulation are a number of physical measures which encourage all the staff working there – including the BBC’s medical drama Casualty and S4C’s Welsh soap Pobol y Cwm – to maintain high environmental standards.

Doctor Who Production Executive Tracie Simpson says: “We are definitely greener since measuring our carbon footprint” – something that the Doctor Who team have been doing since 2012 using the BAFTA albert website. This provides a bespoke carbon foot printing system for TV and film production based on the principle ‘you can only manage what you measure’. Results are shared with staff to raise awareness and engage everyone with bringing carbon emissions down.

Around 60% of the studio lighting is low energy – fluorescent Kino Flo lamps have replaced tungstens, compact fluorescent tubes have replaced space lights and LED panels are gaining popularity. In the last year, the Tardis has been redesigned to include low energy lighting.
The sound department use rechargeable batteries wherever possible. All scripts are e-mailed and only printed by direct request and then on A5, sustainably sourced and recycled paper and double sided. Drop box cloud based file sharing is used. Accounts send out e-payslips as oppose to paper remittances.

Caterers follow sustainable guidelines around sourcing of food. Other suppliers are asked for their sustainability policies including lighting companies and hotels. The production team are also cutting back on plastic by encouraging staff to use mugs and refillable water bottles and supplying large boxes of water for refills. And on set the maximum amount of waste is recycled – partly via the BBC’s waste company Biffa, but also through a set re-purposing company Dres’d, who re-use materials for office installations and events.

Tracie Simpson adds: “Doctor Who’s designers, set and prop build teams are trying to use materials that have less of an impact on our environment eg lead free explosives and water based paint. The Cybermen undersuits are made of foam latex of which the base is a naturally occurring material which will eventually biodegrade. The rest is polyurethane which can be recycled as an energy source”.

The 2016 Christmas Special included a ‘New York’ scene filmed at in a studio in Bulgaria. They flew out a small UK team from the UK and hired most of the crew locally. They also sourced filming equipment in Bulgaria, only flying out the cameras. These actions saved £11,000 on flights and accommodation and £1500 the fuel costs of driving out kit. They also made carbon emissions savings of around 35 tonnes.

Other green travel options adopted include: encouraging crew to car-share; hiring a hybrid production office car and choosing low carbon emission cars when hiring from Enterprise. Guest cast members are asked to travel to Cardiff by train for fittings and filming (most are based in London) which in the past has saved around. £15,000 on car mileage costs and 15 tonnes of carbon emissions. Several of the crew walk or cycle to work.