Recording the Natural World


In this article

  1. Editorial Guidelines Issues
  2. Summary of Main Points

Last updated: September 2012


Editorial Guidelines Issues

This guidance note should be considered in conjunction with the following Editorial Guidelines:


  • Accuracy

See Editorial Guidelines Section 3 Accuracy


  • Harm and Offence

See Editorial Guidelines Section 5 Harm and Offence


Summary of Main Points

 ·       We must apply the same value of truth and accuracy to Natural History output as we apply to all BBC factual output. Audiences should never be deceived or misled by what they see or hear.

·       Where a programme focusses on one named animal, and it is not possible to record all the required shots, it may be necessary to use additional shots or cutaways recorded at a different time to produce a workable sequence, provided the material depicts natural events truthfully, and the pictures and commentary do not suggest viewers are seeing something they are not.

·       When telling the life story of an animal or plant, it may not be possible to film one individual from birth to death. We may therefore use footage of several different animals to detail a life cycle as long as we do not mislead the audience into believing they are seeing the same animal throughout.

·       In cases where it is impractical, unsafe or a danger to the animal to film certain behaviour in the wild, it can be editorially and ethically justified to use captive animals to portray what might happen. But we must never claim that such sequences were shot in the actual location depicted in the film.

·       Stylised and visual devices (eg time-lapsing and CGI) should not distort the meaning of events or otherwise confuse or mislead the audience.

·       If unlabelled, reconstructions should be differentiated in some way from the visual style of the rest of the programme.

·       Any reconstructions or simulations must be referred to the Head of the Natural History Unit.

·       It will rarely be justified to broadcast scenes of illegal behaviour such as bull-fighting, dog fighting and cock fighting whether recorded in the UK or overseas.

·       We should never be involved in any activity with animals which could reasonably be considered cruel. However there may be times when in the public interest we may be justified in recording the harming of animals by third parties for the purpose of gathering evidence or to illustrate cruel or anti-social behaviour.

·       Scenes showing an animal being killed (particularly by humans) should be handled with great sensitivity, and will depend on context and timeslot.



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