Listen to Radio 4 - BBC Radio Player

Planet Earth Under Threat

We Just Wanna feel Good - Let us!

  • Julian Hector
  • 19 Oct 06, 10:16 AM

blog0086.jpg
I've got to write something that makes me feel good. I'm concerned that my recent blogs have been really cage rattling. So read on.

On BBC 1 in 2006, even when the World Cup was on, Natural History was in the top 10 programmes viewed. Planet Earth - the natural world block buster made by the Natural History Unit - was at number 10. The World cup occupied almost every other slot. Flip over to BBC 2 - And Spring watch was at number 4. Autumn Watch is doing just as well with over 3 million people watching it (which is very good for BBC2). Our internal index of audience appreciation is always very high for natural history television - And this applies to radio too. Nature, Living World, Shared Earth, SoundScape and many other series - like the landmark Sound of Life all have fantastic audience appreciation figures. Migration is a good one too. Nature often has the highest of all factual programmes on Radio 4.

We have to feel good. Bill Oddie, Kate Humble and Simon King make us feel great on Spring and Autumn watch. The natural history flows, the chitchat, the issues - smiles, humour. Planet Earth is awe inspring. The greatest of the imagery - Same for the Galapagos. Pure delight. We need to feel wonder to care - we have to be allowed to feel good.

Looking at the papers today: Daily telegraph: "He yelled at me and grabbed me by the neck and started choking me" - The McCartney's. As I thumb through the pages the big editorials are all angst ridden. Same for the Guardian - nice on Page 11 "Dawrin On-line". The Times, important story about Hippo slaughter. The Independent stands out today with a greater variety of angst laden and lighter environmental editorial. I'm not knocking the papers - they've got an important job to do and the broadsheets I laid my hands on above do a great job. But are we tapping angst too much when it comes to reporting climate change the natural world.

It's interesting that TV coverage of the London Marathon is very popular with the audience. I can't believe all the audience are runners (maybe I'm wrong) - my instinct tells me the audience like seeing something positive. They like the combination of the event tied in with individuals doing things for others (the numerous fund raising activies) and a witnessing individuals achieving success. It's not just entertainment it's something else.

Comes back to natural history output. So many people come up to me and say how wonderful Autumn and Spring watch are. And the shows are wonderful and inspiring. They are gentle and don't always challenge. Which is good. We need to feel good about ourselves and not have the angst within us always tapped.

It's ok to feel good as well as understanding the big issues of the day.

Comments  Post your comment

Hi Julian.

Nice blog.

Yes you are right, seems to me there is doom and gloom around every corner, and I'm talking only about the Nature/Environment issues.
However we must also ensure the good news stories get out as well. At my own lectures to the public or whom ever. I am always very careful not to leave people feeling helpless, in other words just spreading doom and gloom. If you give a person hope they will then meet you half-way and try and do something about a problem. With regards to nature programmes either TV or Radio, then of course they are entertainment and and education to the public, but do or can they inspire people to get out and make a difference?

I know the answer to this, and it is a big yes they can do. Example: The word is spreading about a big new series on BBC Radio 4 called "Planet Earth Under Threat" Interestingly people not just interested in the subject are contacting me to find out about the series, so they are become inspired about the issues even before they have heard the series, now that's good.

But for myself being a part of this series, it and the subject has even inspired me. Oh yes I knew about global warming, and yes I was a believer, but after the reporting I did for the series in Sweden I find myself in awe at the speed to which changes are taking place in just one country.

Sorry I can't write more, but I have a planet to save.


Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 
  • 2.
  • At 01:29 PM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Chas Creek wrote:

I am not a great consumer of television and the older I become I have to admit that I watch less and less television. However the one genre that I do and will always consume is natural world programming.
It is interesting to see how far this type of programming has come over the years. I recently purchased the BBC Audio CD ‘David Attenborough – Zoo Quest For A Dragon’ and what a different picture that painted with the natural world more or less seen as a commodity to be captured, crated and shipped back to the UK to be paraded under the spot lights of a studio.

Obviously this type of programming has evolved a lot since those first days and the quality is second to none and now programmes like Spring & Autumn Watch have evolved the genre further. They have brought natural history right home to the viewer. It isn’t an exotic location with 4 years of filming to produce a visual extravaganza it is here and now, right on your doorstep and something that you can be involved in at a practical level. It is wildlife programming that you can touch and immediately relate to and as you say ‘feel good about’. Series such as ‘Coast’ and ‘British Isles – A Natural History’ again have brought natural world programming back ‘home’ to the UK viewer and I feel again engender a feeling of pride and respect for the natural history of this country.
Programming such as Spring Watch I think allows the viewer to feel as though they can be involved in nature and environmental issues in a local and useful way and I guess the success of the Breathing Spaces projects proves this.

The issue with the media in terms of broadsheets and the like including television news is that they seem to latch onto the latest research (proven or not) and then paint a picture of global disaster which is portrayed as a run away process and on such a scale that the news consumer feels they cannot have any positive impact in changing. It also creates a sense of fait accompli whereby the conclusion is so foregone and the issue so large that all we can do is nod our heads gravely and sigh at the inevitable doom of the planet – or at least the planet in a form that we can inhabit.

So I agree we do need to have more positive and ‘light hearted’ programming that is local to us in the UK and that encourages positive involvement no matter how small in doing things that when 3 million people do them have a massive positive impact on the world around us.

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 

And dont forget Countryfile - often a very good mix of 'feelgood' plus topical issues.
Of course, the greatest feelgood of all, in any sector, is to provide hope. This must come from confidence that we know what we are doing, have a sustainable plan in place and that the longer term common good will prevail over short term commercialism or political correctness. Getting such a message across no doubt takes a little hard work. Making it stick and living the dream takes more hard work. So, it follows perhaps that real 'feelgood' has something to do with commitment, involvement and getting ones hands dirty! It may also involve a willingness to stand and be counted on important issues, even if they are not 'popular' issues of the day. If awareness is proportional to 'feelgood', then involvement is surely the 'feelgood' facilitator.

Regards,
JA

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 
  • 4.
  • At 12:00 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Hamish wrote:

Whilst you are all flying around, panicking about man-made global warming, I will be waiting for the so-called experts to change their views once again and start predicting the next Ice Age. We've had 4 changes of prediction of doom due to climate change in the last 150 years and none of it has been based on scientific fact. This applies to the present hysteria too.
If man can influence the climate, how do you explain the warm and cold periods of relatively recent history and cooling when CO2 levels were rapidly rising? Why is ice increasing at the Antarctic? Why are polar bears doing very well thank you? Why are glaciers growing? The list of facts to refute hysterical claims is a long one.
Accepted wisdom is seldom actually wise and to see our politicians vaulting onto the bandwagon to lecture us about our responsibilities is grossly insulting. To see the BBC squandering public funds on unfounded rubbish such as this is unforgiveable.
The climate has always been variable and it will continue to be so. Deal with it.

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 
  • 5.
  • At 07:13 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Julian Hector wrote:

hello Hamish - I'm not a climate scientist but there are answers to your questions, and good answers too. It's interesting that when we were all burning coal like bilio in power stations, all the soot and gunk actually cooled the earth down. And altough we were pumping vast amounts of CO2 into the air, it was off-set by the cooling of the soot in the atmosphere. A volcanoe going off - especially a big one, will do the same job. But we don't want acid rain - remember that? I understand that we are going to get cold periods in parts of the world, but less so that the increased frequency of hot periods. Polar bears are shifting about, but the predicted loss of sea ice is going to effect their hunting...we wait to see on that one. But the basic picture, is they are in peril. Warmer atmosphere means it holds more moisture and the sea evaporates more. So some places will have loads more rain. Ironically, this will also mean more snow over Antarctica - especially over penguin colonies who don't want snow. Regarding glaciers, the general picture is they are melting in mountain zones, Greenland...perhaps some growing in Norway. The general trend I am convinced is a warming one. I do worry though that we har all this from high brow theorists and us lay people find it hard to see the evidence on the ground. I live in Southern England and my heating isn't on yet.

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 
  • 6.
  • At 10:09 AM on 09 Dec 2006,
  • Joe Jones wrote:

I'm sorry, I cannot agree that either Kate Humble or Simon King "make [me] feel great."

Kate Humble is just another in the long line of BBC female presenters who try to convince us that, in the words of the immortal P.G. Wodehouse, "the stars are God's daisy chain" (a la Madeline Bassett); and Simon King's seems incapable of coming across as anything other than an emotional invertebrate.

I want to make my own mind up about how I feel about the images being shown - I loathe having some self-appointed narrator telling me how I OUGHT to feel about them, and especially when I'm FORCED to pay their salaries!

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 

Post a comment

Please note name and email are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 
    

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

bbc.co.uk