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Green on screen news room

Is your favourite show green on screen?

We teamed up with Goldsmiths University to find out how environmentally friendly British TV shows are. From characters discussing climate change to washing up in the dark, driving gas guzzling cars to installing a smart meter – how do the eco-friendly behaviours we see on screen affect our actions at home?

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During the last year of lockdowns, as a nation we've spent more time than ever in front of the TV. TV provides something for everybody: soaps, game shows, drama series and more. TV helps entertain Britain and it educates us, too. And as it turns out, TV can even influence the changes we make in our own homes.

Can TV shows make us more ‘green’? 

People up and down the country are making changes to reduce their carbon footprint. From recycling, to becoming more aware of household energy usage with a smart meter. Protecting our environment has never felt more important. But do TV shows we watch influence us to be more green?

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According to our research, 60% of Brits believe TV characters should act in an environment friendly way. Whether they’re fictional or not.

With 20% stating they would copy ‘green’ actions if their favourite characters carried them out.

For example:

  • 20% of Brits feel that if TV characters make a point of turning off lights and reducing energy use in the programmes they watch, they’re encouraged to do the same.
  • 15% have even start growing their own fruit and veg after seeing their favourite TV characters get green-fingered.

The downside to this? More than 66% of British TV shows exhibit damaging eco-behaviours. And these behaviours are also likely to be copied:

  • ‘Our Planet’ and ‘Blue Planet’ are shows which encourage us to protect the world. But ironically, 19% of Brits have been inspired to travel across the world after watching these programmes.
  • Coronation Street’s Ray Crosby was seen driving a large diesel 4x4 – no electric cars in sight. Which could be inspiring to watchers on the lookout for a new car.

Green on Screen

We teamed up with Goldsmiths University to analyse the ‘greenness’ of the British TV shows we watch and love.

We worked with Goldsmiths University to review 45 of the UK’s most watched shows, looking at how energy efficient characters are, the eco-friendly actions displayed on screen, and even how buildings in the show are built.

Each show has been awarded a Red, Amber or Green rating - Green means the TV show and characters are taking eco-friendly actions, while Red means the TV show and characters are putting our environment at risk.

You can download our research here.

What ‘green’ behaviour was seen?

As a nation, we are taking steps to become greener. From reducing our single-use plastics to recycling to avoiding the tumble dryer. But how much of this is actually displayed on our screens?

Green Behaviour Frequency Percentage (across TV programmes)
 Using a washing line 1%
Using a clothes dryer 8%
Washing up by hand 45%
Riding bikes 10%
Recycling 4%
 Using smart devices 6%
Switching off lights 36%
Water habits 5%
 Growing food 4%
Composting 7%

Who’s Leading The Way?

Grand Designs came out on top, with a focus on creating new buildings from recycled and sustainable materials. The students in Fresh Meat secured second place with their money - and environment - saving car shares.

Recycling and composting also helped the shows in the list come out on top, as well as double glazing and natural lighting installed in homes on screen. Eastenders landlord Mick Carter, played by Danny Dyer, was even seen washing dishes in the dark – very environmentally friendly!

Rating Shows rated Green
 1 Grand Designs
2 Fresh Meat
3 Mrs. Brown's Boys
3 Normal People 
4 Peppa Pig
5 Two Doors Down
6 Fleabag
6 Neighbours
6 This Country
7 Coronation Street
7 Not Going Out
8 Emmerdale
8 Friday Night Dinner
9 I May Destroy You
9 Peep Show

The worst offenders

The worst offenders the study found included London based crime-drama series Gangs of London and Luther. Both featured many luxury cars being driven at high speed around the capital. If the shows want to improve their rating, they should look to replace these gas-guzzlers with quieter, cleaner and greener electric vehicles.

Rating Shows rated Red
 23 Broadchurch
24 The Inbetweeners
24 The Trouble with Maggie Cole
25 Brassic
25 Collateral
26 The Nest
26 The Split
27 Luther
28 Gangs of London

Did smart meters make an appearance?

Surprisingly, none of the TV households covered in the study showed evidence of a visible smart meter or its in home display - even though they could help make a real difference to your carbon footprint.

Getting a smart meter is an easy way to manage your energy usage at home. The smart meter and in-home display provide near real-time energy usage data, helping you make changes that cut down on household costs. Find out how Sarah uses her smart meter in prepay mode to make budgeting that little bit easier.

Using the near real time data your in-home display provides, you can tweak your habits to lower your energy consumption.

This could help us to reduce our carbon emissions as a nation.

Are TV characters recycling?

Based on current national figures, 90% of us recycle. But it’s not translating to our TV screens! Just 2.4% of TV households were seen recycling in over 150 hours of viewing. Proving once and for all that you can’t believe everything you see on screen…

What about mentioning climate change and the environment?

Surprisingly, mentions of the environment and climate change were lacking too.

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Across 90 episodes, these topics were simply not discussed by any of the characters. This is despite research* finding 39% of us discuss this at least once a week.

In fact, some TV characters didn’t show any concern for the environment at all. 9% of indoor scenes featured lights left on when they didn’t need to be, with soap stars being the worst offenders.

Want to find out more about Green on screen?

Download the research

Find out how you can reduce your carbon footprint by requesting a smart meter –

*Smart Energy GB research, OnePoll. Carried out between: 28/01/2020– 05/02/2020. Sample 2,000 adults.

An in-home display

 

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