Posted on 6th April 2020

Can we still mention the (other) C-word?

With the TV industry on hiatus and recalibrating, is it still okay to think about climate change?

Concern for our climate has taught us to listen to the world both natural and constructed, and that world has been changed by COVID-19. Probably forever.

But that world has always been complex, which makes viewing issues in silo largely ineffective. So now we’ve just got one more thing to add into the mix – COVID-19.

Taking a singular view of climate change was never advised anyway because to fix it without also addressing social justice, community connections, planetary optimism and love for our natural and built environments would have been impossible.

The question is that in the context of COVID-19, should we consider climate to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, or as an integral component of the industry’s economic recovery? We must think carefully, as how we answer this question now is likely to become the result.

Ready Steady Cook

The revamped cookery show is championing sustainability

Let’s recap...

…on television’s onscreen climate challenge.

We need to bake sustainable living (the recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) into our content.

Natural History has a role to play, but unless we mirror climate recommendations in programming like You Are What You Wear, DIY SOS, This Morning, Come Dine with Me, Queer Eye and An Idiot Abroad – we are toast.

This approach is so important because if climate change as a whole was hard to swallow; climate x COVID will surely choke us. We need instead to focus on positive individual actions.

Jet Set

Can we continue to dangle high carbon lifestyles in front of our viewers?

Good cultural and lifestyle content is so brilliant and accessible as it meets its audiences where it finds them.

But COVID-19 just moved these audiences. They are now likely to be bored, broke, scared and thinking about the future.

So more so than ever, we cannot dangle high carbon lifestyles (flying to exotic locations, wardrobe revolutions, expensive cuts of meat or home makeovers) in front of our audiences. But we can use low cost and low carbon lifestyles as a genuine route to meet audiences in their new location. And save the planet at the same time.

Genuinely authentic content will help build ad revenue, new commissions, employment and the gradual recovery of the television industry.

These themes works as, coincidently the implications of COVID-19 play into these key climate considerations remarkably well: never has it been easier to love nature when it has been put off limits, never has there been so much pent-up positivity as people seek to support their communities meaningfully, never before have people’s vulnerabilities been more exposed and the need for social justice been more obvious and never before has there been a greater need for strategic optimism to guide us through this emergency.

So, at this remarkable time, we’ve got one simple request for all in the TV industry - lean in. Engage with the climate-covid conundrum, even if you can’t take any action until we return to a new normal.


If you are managing commissions, we understand these are highly unusual times. But if we don’t move our content on significantly regarding its cultural climate messaging, if another pandemic should strike in 10 years, we won’t be able to show repeats because some of today’s content will seem environmentally offensive by then. So fight those fire, you are doing amazingly! But please keep an eye to the future, and know that producers (and audiences) are getting ready for a new type of environmental conversation.


If you are a producer, this sucks for you too. But this reset is an opportunity to consider how your next commission might help the country and the planet back together. Use this time to measure your carbon footprint, understand the recommendations from the IPCC and make sure your content is up to scratch. HINT: You must no longer blindly fly contributors to climate stressed regions of the world, glorify disposable fashion, give away high carbon prizes or cook like there is no tomorrow, because there is – and it will be better than today if we get it right.

Take the Planet Test

Take the Planet Test

Our ‘planet test’ calls for all content to acknowledge that the world, with all its wonder and tragedy, actually exists. It is simply about content authenticity in strange and (can I bear to say it… yes) unprecedented times. And that message is just as relevant today as it has ever been.

Join our Training

Join our Training

We’ll be running free creative content online workshops for programme makers to understand and explore our industry’s exciting climate onscreen challenge. Register your interest to find out more