Why Am I on You Tube?
Some of you who follow me closely will have noticed in the last few days that I have started a livestreaming You Tube channel.
Why on earth, when I work on the likes of springwatch, the one show and countyfile, which have millions of viewers and actually pay me to do my job - would I want to start my own You Tube Channel from scratch with hardly anyone watching and, of course, do it for nothing.
It’s a question I have asked myself a lot in the run up to setting this up.
The answer is manyfold.
In my first few weeks of working in TV in my early 20’s I was horrified at how much money it cost to make it. Thousands and thousands of pounds just for a minute or two of telly. Could this money not be spent better in conservation? That’s why I was getting in to telly, to try and help spread the word about saving our natural world. But could spreading the word justify spending all that money – you could buy a nature reserve for the cost of just half an hour of average telly.
I almost left telly there and then. But, I felt I should stick at it. Yes, it was costing a lot of money, but it was also reaching millions of people. That kind of reach costs money; so I reasoned. And, within reason, I think I was right.
The problem over years though, has been the battle between entertainment and getting messages out there. I have always felt TV, when it comes to wildlife, has always done too much of the former and not enough of the latter.
I tried hard to get conservation into the entertainment, I got Springwatch to let me make the first ever real in depth look at Beaver re-introduction on the BBC by producing part of the show live from the Knapdale Beaver Project for a week, I persuaded Autumnwatch to let Liz Bonnin go out and watch red deer being culled in Scotland to prompt discussion on over grazing and lack of forest growth, I even got to direct an hour long BBC2 program about how climate change is impacting UK wildlife. And recently The One Show has let me make a film about river restoration in the Lake District, whilst filming leaping salmon. So, there are some achievements out there, but I can count them on a few fingers. Getting a good balance of entertainment and conservation and environment seems to be beyond the grasps of BBC commissioners for a lot of the time. They just want to keep it light.
Yes, things are getting better, there is more good stuff on telly about the environment, but its still too slowly, and too often the BBC is unable to get its teeth into the stories in a way so many people would like it too.
So, we’re still spending a lot of money in wildlife TV, not doing enough good, not giving a voice to the charities, scientists and policy creators that we could. And its been bugging me for 20 years.
But now, well now things have changed. New technologies means I can broadcast live to the whole world from my cameras, using only a mobile phone signal. It’s incredibly cheap to do it compared to telly, and there is no one saying you can’t talk about conservation or the environment because it’s boring. You can do what you want and it will be down the public who will vote by their clicks, follows and subscribing as to whether they like the content.
And its this freedom, this ability to go direct to both viewers and the voice of conservationist that has driven me to try and make this new world of You Tube work.
It is very early days for me. I am not that great with tech stuff and working out how to get a signal from my camera out onto You Tube has fried my brain. But I’ve done it and I am starting to make it work. As yet the content is very basic, but you have to start somewhere. Any hey, whats wrong with basic - sparrows deserve as much attention as lions!
And I have no one to copy here. No else, as far as I am aware, anywhere in the world, is putting a professional broadcast wildlife TV camera live on YouTube, chatting about what they are filming, and interviewing people whilst they are doing it. I'm making it up as I go along, but I am lucky enough to have the kit to be able to do it at least.
So this is all very new, and it’s going to take time to get it working at the level where I would like it to be. It's rough and ready and the wildlife has yet to be astonishing, I have much more to achieve to get it to my TV standards. I need to afford to keep doing it to polish it, which will eventually require getting enough subscribers and viewers to generate an advertising income. Sadly I have a mortgage to pay like everyone else. But for now I am doing it for free and hoping I can get it headed in the right direction whilst keeping up the paid day job. Which I wont ever give up as I love doing it – but I need to do this as well.
So, this afternoon I head off to film some lovely wading birds called Turnstone, interview a man who has been running a conservation project to protect them, and all it will cost me is a few pounds of petrol and mobile phone data. It wont reach the millions Springwatch does, not yet, but it gives a voice to an important project and I hope will be entertaining to watch – they are cracking little birds.
I hope if I can keep this going, and as time goes buy then who knows, I could be broadcasting from anywhere in the UK, the world even, that has a phone signal. And I could be talking about everything from elephant poaching to climate change whilst filing some stunning wildlife to go with it. Who knows, who knows. It’s just an idea. But at least I know why I am doing this and it feels like the right idea. And after all, didn’t someone say the most powerful thing in the world is an idea. I think it is – and I’ve got one.
PS if you've not subscribed to my channel yet - please do it will help a lot - just follow this link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQhazV6YcOs6Ez-wNab0taw?view_as=subscriber