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  • Should There Be More TV Shows About the Environment?

Should There Be More TV Shows About the Environment?

Sep 07 2020 Read 650 Times

More than three-quarters of young people in the UK believe that environmental issues should figure more prominently in TV programmes, according to a new survey carried out by Global Action Plan. 77% of those questioned said they thought that issues such as wildlife protection and plastic pollution did not feature in dramas and comedies as opposed to documentaries nearly as much as they should.

The announcement of the survey was timed to coincide with the launch of a webinar – scheduled to take place on October 1st – entitled “Making a Drama out of a Crisis”. Featuring a discussion between industry experts and Richard Curtis CBE, the event is a joint initiative between Global Action Plan and the Royal Television Society and will examine the potential that broadcast television holds in foregrounding the debate by showcasing the work of exciting new writers.

A timely poll

An overwhelming percentage (88%) of 16-34 year olds reported that environmental issues were important to them, with more than three-quarters (76%) saying that they thought the environmental implications of coronavirus were not being given enough airtime in the mainstream media. While coverage of the ongoing pandemic has understandably dominated headlines and news reports over the past six months, the survey found that many young people fear issues like climate change, endangered wildlife and plastic pollution were being sidelined as a result.

Indeed, 59% of respondents said green issues should feature more regularly and prominently in TV dramas, while 57% thought they should appear in comedies and 57% in entertainment programmes. Protecting wildlife was seen as the most pressing problem (87%), while plastic pollution and the dangers it brings was similarly held in high regard (84%). That consensus was shared across the UK, but it was most commonly observed in the North East and East of England, where 94% of young people held the environment close to their heart.

“Flickers of the future”

The current healthcare crisis has already demonstrated how going digital can improve environmental health, as emissions have fallen due to the fact that homeworking has become more prevalent and vehicular travel has plummeted. However, the survey revealed that there is a strong opinion that digital media (and in particular, television entertainment) can do more to highlight the stark issues facing our planet at this tumultuous time.

The BBC had already been investigating ways of incorporating green topics into their programming before the pandemic outbreak. For the last year, its “Flickers of the Future” campaign has invited young filmmakers between 18 and 29 years of age to submit scripts focusing on a sustainable future for humans. Five finalists have now been selected from more than 100 entries, all of which will be screened in the webinar event at the beginning of next month. The initiative is geared towards nurturing young writing talent and enhancing the BBC’s coverage of environmental themes in its programming at the same time.

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