77% of young people in the UK would like to see environmental issues included in TV drama programmes more than they currently are, new figures reveal.
The research also found that three quarters of 16-34 year olds (76%) in the UK are worried that environmental issues are not getting enough exposure on TV since the onset of the Coronavirus. The study conducted by the UK charity Global Action Plan provides insight into what the next generation of eco-conscious young audiences want to see on screen.
In the context of the double crisis of climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, the majority (88%) of 16-34 year olds in the UK say that environmental issues are important to them, in particular those based in the North East and East of England (94%).
Almost three fifths of 16-34 year olds in the UK would like to see environmental issues included more in dramas (59%), comedies (57%) and entertainment programmes (57%). When looking into specific environmental issues, the most pressing for young people are in protecting wildlife (87%) and ending plastic pollution (84%), according to the youth focused study conducted this summer.
The new figures come as a new industry event is announced today by the Royal Television Society and Global Action Plan, who have partnered to host a webinar ‘Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis’ in conversation with Richard Curtis CBE and industry experts on Thursday 1st October 2020.
Richard Curtis CBE says: “It’s clear that young people haven’t lost sight of the urgent need to address climate change despite the global pandemic. And quite rightly as the climate emergency is central to the solutions to so many of our problems. The TV industry is going to be absolutely key to combatting climate change. I’d like to see commissioners respond to the concern of young viewers by placing the environment at the heart of the work they’re commissioning. It’s undeniable that the climate emergency is going to dominate the next ten years, so I think for TV not to deal with it would be mad.“
The charity Global Action Plan is responding to the call for more environmental content from young audiences by launching the Flickers of the Future initiative – alongside Richard Curtis CBE and a host of broadcast and environmental experts – which aims to inspire change in the way the broadcast industry covers the environment.
Sonja Graham, Co-CEO of Global Action Plan says: “Our survey findings show that young people’s concern for our environment is still very real and urgent –and they want to see this represented in the story-lines of the shows and films they watch – not just side-lined into documentaries. We’re bowled over by the creativity of our Flickers of the Future film makers, who show the critical role drama can play in having a laugh – and a gasp – at some of the things we do today and ultimately inspiring us all with glimpses of a better more sustainable future to strive towards”.
Theresa Wise, CEO of the Royal Television Society says: “The RTS is passionate about issues of conservation and sustainability. We are therefore delighted to be involved in this important initiative – which will use young people and the power of our industry to raise awareness and inspire the right sorts of change.”
The RTS virtual event on 1 October will aim to offer new insights into what youth audiences want to watch and introduce fresh creative talent who are already articulating this content. The online session will be headlined by Richard Curtis and showcase five young filmmakers from the Flickers of the Future initiative.
Supported by albert, the authority on environmental sustainability for film + TV from BAFTA, the event calls for the UK industry to reflect on how it can support young creative voices to be heard as part of a fresh restart for the world of TV, as well as for the planet.
Aaron Matthews, Head of Industry Sustainability at albert said: “It’s critical that our content illustrates the impact our food choices, shopping habits, transport decisions and personal relationships have on the environment. It’s no longer acceptable for the science to tell us we need to change our way of living whilst our Film and TV content continue to promote an unsustainable lifestyle. This isn’t about finding new climate touch points that don’t exist, but rather removing blinkers and letting the climate reality flood in. We’re excited to see how initiatives like Flickers for the Future will help the next generation of creatives to bring the climate into their content and help inspire positive change.”
Over the past year, Flickers of the Future invited UK filmmakers between the ages of 18- 29 to create a human story of a sustainable future, with a nationwide competition resulting in over 100 entries. Shortlisted finalists who have been chosen by a panel of broadcast and environmental experts will be supported through the process by one of the UK’s biggest production companies, the multi award-winning Carnival Films, which is part of NBCUniversal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group.
Charlotte Ashby, Head Of Production at Carnival Films says: “We are working with Flickers of the Future because we share the aims of this fantastic initiative – to nurture young writers taking on the issues of climate change and to get these compelling stories to the widest audience possible. The message is loud and clear, it is time for mainstream TV to give the mic to young talent to help change the content we make and the way we make it, in order to challenge norms and shape narratives that can motivate action on the climate crisis. We need their voices, imagination and humour as we look for positive visions of a future we can live and thrive in.”
Annie Osborne, from Global Action Plan’s Youth Panel says: “This research is a call to arms for TV to do more to portray environmental issues and particularly their solutions. My generation has clearly demonstrated its concern that the climate crisis is being overlooked. The Covid pandemic must not be allowed to overshadow the persistent threat posed by environmental breakdown.”
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