The NTA Impact Award was won by British ‘national treasure’, broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, 91, for the BBC documentary ‘Blue Planet II’ which highlights the effects of eight million tonnes of plastic that end up in the world’s seas and oceans each year. The series had an enormous impact to society. The National Television Award is Britain’s leading TV award where many millions of votes are cast each year via post, telephone and online.
Blue Planet II is about the disastrous effect of humans on our oceans and the documentary’s devastating footage of poisoned stillborn whales and turtles trapped in plastic bags has led to a public outcry, with consumers vowing to cut down on plastic waste and the UK government promising concrete action. And that, says Sir David Attenborough, makes it a ‘job worth doing’. He also said ‘We hoped that it would make an impression, but the attention that it’s gained around the world has been extraordinary. So we’re very lucky.’
Executive producer James Honeyborne explains what happened with the baby sperm whale after filming: ‘Sometimes you’ve got to step in. As wildlife filmmakers we must let nature take its course, we don’t want to interfere with it. But just very rarely, sometimes, you feel compelled to do something, and if you see a turtle trapped in a plastic bag or you see a humpback whale wrapped up in fishing gear, you’ve got to step in – that’s human nature isn’t it? And I’m pleased to say that’s what happened with the baby sperm whale. But it wasn’t easy.
The sperm whale had the bucket and was playing with it, and looked like he could choke on it, so René the cameraman swam over and put his camera aside and took the bucket. And the sperm whale looked at him and took the bucket back. So he took the bucket off the sperm whale and the baby calf came over and took hold of his leg and at that point René realised he was going on a ride – down…
The whale dived and René, who was snorkelling, realised all he could do was hold his breath. And the whale dived and took him down and he waited, and he had to wait until the whale wanted to come back and breathe – and luckily that was before he ran out of air. They came back up to the top, René was still holding on to the bucket, and it was only then that the whale realised that maybe it wasn’t a game after all and got bored and left him alone.’
‘Never before have we been so aware of what we are doing to our planet – and never before have we had such power to do something about it.’ – Sir David Attenborough, Blue Planet II
Making programmes like Blue Planet obviously stirs the consciences of people worldwide and we sincerely hope it eventually does make an impact.
Let’s do it for our children!