January 2024: News from Metro Mayor Dan Norris

MANY of us enjoy a bit of television at this time of year.

Indeed, during the festive break, you might have seen one of the BBC’s headline offerings: Attenborough and the Giant Sea Monster.

Like so many shows about animals and plants, David Attenborough’s was made right here in the West of England – to be precise, at Bristol’s world-renowned Natural History Unit.

Unlike in years past, today it has become difficult to know which are Bristol’s fantastic TV and radio productions from actually watching or listening to the programmes themselves. 

Only those “in the know” are aware. Why? Because, sadly, the BBC has erased its mention of Bristol from the end credits of such shows.

Remember when they used to proudly state “BBC Bristol”? Not anymore.

I think that needs to change. It’s time to credit Bristol again.

From the start, the credits showed Bristol back in 1957 when the unit was set up.

Its roots were formed in radio. Because the BBC’s West Region in Bristol produced a popular radio series for the Home Service called The Naturalist, the city was well-placed to produce nature TV too. Bristol therefore became the obvious place to set up the Natural History Unit.

The rest, as they say, is history. 

I certainly felt proud seeing Bristol mentioned in the credits of some classic programmes. Think of shows like Animal Magic, which ran from the 60s through to the 80s.

Natural history has always been an important part of children’s TV, sparking the imagination of so many.  Chris Packham, who I know through my animal welfare work, saw his career launched in Bristol on The Really Wild Show, which ran for two decades.

David Attenborough is today a national, and global, treasure. But back in the 50s, it was the Natural History Unit that allowed him to innovate to become that world pioneer in television.

The natural history made in the West has entertained, engaged, and enthralled audiences. We’re globally successful and multi-award-winning in this area.

Nowadays it’s not just the BBC but Channel 4 and even Disney who call the West of England home. In fact, 35% of all natural history content globally is made in our part of the world.

I have written to the BBC Director General to ask why the BBC decided to sever links with a region which was the birthplace of the Unit. We’re more creative than ever but we’ve been erased!

Why, when places like Cardiff and Salford are mentioned by the BBC so often, do they seemingly appear ashamed of Bristol when running their credits?

I want our great region to be recognised nationally and across the planet.

The Natural History Unit is responsible for some of the most globally successful factual content of the past 60 years. That’s something to be proud of.

So, if you agree, please get in touch. Visit my website www.votedan.uk/creditbristolagain and tweet to @bbc #creditbristolagain to call for ‘Made in Bristol’ credits to be reinstated to all the BBC’s programmes made here.