How to embed environmental sustainability as a

Non-scripted developer

You’re always one step ahead of on-screen trends.

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In your position at the first stage in the life of great programming, you have an opportunity to create refreshingly original content and a better future for TV and film.

Here are some of the ways environmental sustainability can help you do this:


Find ways to incorporate it into existing formats

Incorporate environmental sustainability into the on-screen formats people know and love. Popular panel shows, gameshows and talk shows are a great opportunity to get an environmental message to a wide and varied audience. When filling segments, consider including something on the environment. In a quiz show, you could include a thought-provoking question about climate change. Or in a gameshow, you could incorporate fun, positive environmental actions and tasks. When you have the chance to add an extra feature to your format, think ‘environment’.


Create entire formats around solutions

With more people aware of climate change, more people want to make a difference through their own actions. So, give audiences the tools to do so. The answer could be in a new format that makes solutions accessible. It could be a new competition that brings neighbours across the UK together in a race to create greener communities. Or a fashion show that tells people how to upcycle their clothes to keep them from landfill. Whatever it may be, show that individuals and communities can take on climate change in their everyday life.


Make it a standard in all treatments and castings

Just as the industry did with classification and diversity requirements, could you make environmental sustainability in television the norm? On-screen diversity requirements have led to an increase in viewership across a wide range of broadcasters. ITV data shows an increase in BAME viewers, whilst still retaining traditional audiences. And after the Paralympics in 2012, Channel 4 commissioned a survey showing its positive impact on the way that disabled sport was talked about. You have the opportunity to do the same through environmental sustainability. So, in all your treatments and pitches, include an assessment that considers how the content contributes toward a more sustainable society. It will mean attracting new, environmentally conscious viewers, whilst retaining your current ones. And it will mean that your content better represents the contemporary world.

But remember…

Environmental sustainability issues are the stories of the 21st century with content opportunities like no other. They’re full of drama, conflict, compelling characters and controversies. However, some environmental-themed content falls at the first hurdle because it doesn’t meet the criteria for great, entertaining content. When you’re creating purposeful content, don’t let it distract you from what you do best:  telling a good story.




Ask yourself: does it pass The Planet Test?

A TV programme or Film would only pass The Planet Test if:

  1. It acknowledges the natural world actually exists
  2. Negative environmental behaviours are shown as negative character traits
  3. One person does something at least once to make the world a better place
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