Posted on 23rd November 2021

UKTV’s first carbon neutral production with Steve Blackshall

UKTV has been a member of albert since 2014 and it has been mandatory since April 2020 for all their original productions to be carbon neutral and sustainable. As they progress on their environmentally friendly journey it has become clear to them 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 at UKTV has been critical and having Planet Placement championed at a senior level by their Director of Commissioning, Richard Watsham and Senior Commissioning Editor Helen Nightingale have 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 UKTV works with. They have created a dialogue and worked together rather than having to ‘tell’ each other what to do.

Initially it was hard at UKTV to work out how to have productive conversations about sustainability during production as it often involved additional administration and logistical challenges, but they’ve been successful in creating positive conversations and have been able to evolve the necessary processes and ways of working. They’ve learnt as they’ve gone along and are still learning but wanted to share what they had learned and what they were doing. With that in mind, they presented a showreel at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, and will continue to work closely with albert, and have detailed some things they’re doing below.

Environmental sustainability is now a consideration at the earliest stage of development and it is a key component of UKTV’s 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.

During production UKTV keep the climate conversation active by requesting Planet Placement updates in their progress reports. Finally, post-production meetings provide an opportunity for the producers to share achievements and challenges. All Planet Placement clips are timecoded & logged in their billings forms so that they can track progress on screen.

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