a television showing large green field beneath blue sky, with the same field behind the TV

Writers back call for more environment plotlines on TV

WGGB writers have rallied behind a report that calls for more plotlines about climate change to be used in television drama.

The report, carried out by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), analysed a year’s worth of subtitles from 40 TV channels. It found that references to climate change fell far behind terms such as “beer” or “sex”.

BAFTA says TV can help change people’s attitudes towards the planet, citing successes from previous initiatives. For example, charities often receive surges in calls for help following soap plotlines on health and social issues.

Responding to the findings, BAFTA’s chairwoman Dame Pippa Harris said: “The TV industry’s call to address climate change is clear. It’s time to write a different script.”

She urged the industry to “use powerful human stories to connect audiences with the world around them”.

Lisa Holdsworth
Lisa Holdsworth (Photo: Emily Goldie)

Her words were reflected by screenwriter and WGGB deputy co-chair Lisa Holdsworth (right) on BBC1’s News at One who said that little references, such as showing people recycling and talking about environmental issues, could make a difference. “We’re beginning to see the real-life effects of climate change on people who’ve no choice but to bear the brunt of it. If drama and TV are not doing this, then we are not doing our job properly.”

WGGB chair Gail Renard carried on the commentary on BBC Radio Scotland: “Bafta’s Climate Change report is illuminating. The crisis is happening now which is a very good reason why it should be reflected in our telly scripts, both as plot lines and as repercussions as part of every day life. Think of all the extra respiratory patients Holby will get as the situation worsens.

“I’m writing a new pre-school children’s series, Monty & Co. The puppet characters have a shop where anything can be either mended or recycled into something new and glorious. Kiddies have pinwheels so they understand about wind power. You can’t start educating children too early, so reversing climate change becomes part of their every day lives.”


Photo of a TV screen showing a green field standing in the same green field: Shutterstock / Krivosheev Vitaly