Natural narratives

From Natural World to Deadly 60 – great programmes held together by strong stories. In the second in our series on storytelling for wildlife film makers, Ben Toone gets more storytelling tips from the award winning BBC Natural History Unit's Jonny Keeling and Steve Greenwood and the BBC Academy's Hazel Marshall.

Jonny Keeling, producer of programmes such as CBBC’s Deadly series and CBeebies Andy’s Wild Adventures, talks to us about how to construct an engaging narrative in children’s television programmes, and where thinking about the story is key every step of the way from development to broadcast. He also discusses how important stories have become in online games and films, particularly with a more fickle young audience. 

Steve Greenwood was series producer for BBC Two's Natural World strand, a series of documentaries that focus on one single story over the course of an hour. He talks about what makes a Natural World idea work and reveals how constructing that story is different when the cast of characters includes people as well as animals. 

And Hazel Marshall, who teaches storytelling across the BBC and worked closely with the Natural History Unit, gives her take on why storytelling is important, outlines the process of finding a good story and offers some tips for programme makers.

"Storytelling is an absolute balance of instinct and analysis." – Hazel Marshall

Jonny Keeling is the executive producer for children’s output at the BBC’s Natural History Unit. The unit has made programmes including Deadly 60, Deadly 360 and Live 'n' Deadly, Wolfblood, Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature and Andy’s Wild Adventures, plus live events, interactive experiences and games. His career credits include producing the Plains episode for Planet Earth, as well as episodes of Wildlife on One, Lost Land of the Volcano and Natural World. He was series producer on Lost Land of the Tiger, Lost Land of the Wolves and The Dark: Nature's Nighttime World, and was also assistant producer on Sir David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals.

Before being series editor for Natural world, Steve Greenwood worked on several expedition series including Lost Land of the Volcano and Lost Land of the Jaguar. He is currently working on a major new series on sharks.

Hazel Marshall designs and delivers storytelling and scripting courses for the BBC Academy and has taught people working on shows such as Horizon, Wonders of the Solar System, Imagine..., The One Show and Lost Land of the Tiger. She was a consultant on storytelling with the Natural History Unit, particularly on Africa. She is also an experienced writer and radio producer.