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Why BBC One’s new primetime drama The Interceptor is electrifying

BBC Chevrolet VoltsBBC One’s new primetime drama The Interceptor is the first large-scale production to pioneer the use of electric cars.

As well as the production gaining a three star rating by industry sustainability certification scheme albert+, the use of electric cars saved on carbon dioxide emissions, fuel costs and congestion charges.

On-screen, viewers follow an undercover team on the hunt for Britain’s most ruthless criminals, but off-screen the production has become the first large-scale TV drama to use only electric cars behind the scenes.

By using electric vehicles as unit and production cars during the making of the show, eight tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions were saved – enough to drive 50,000 miles or twice around the globe – as well as saving the BBC over £10,000 in fuel and congestion charges.

Five extended-range electric cars were used by the production for 28 weeks during the shoot in summer and autumn 2014. Four were used as unit cars, which effectively have a role as a taxi service for actors and crew to be picked-up and driven to and from filming locations, plus running errands for the production. The other electric car was used as the production office run-around, picking up people, equipment, etc.

Nick Leslie, BBC Sustainable Production Project Manager, says:

“The cast and production thought it was important to use electric cars to help lower the overall CO2 emissions for the show. Initially there were some reservations about the electric cars from the unit drivers, as there is pressure for making sure unit cars run smoothly and on time.

“However, once they started driving the cars, all the unit drivers said that they were happy with the performance of the vehicles. In fact a competition developed between the drivers to see who could make the energy in their batteries last longest.

“Some of the drivers said that using these cars had opened their minds to fuel efficiency when driving, as the vehicles had a dashboard display showing how their driving impacted upon the battery charge. One of the drivers even said they were planning on buying an electric car when it was time to change their personal vehicle.”

The Interceptor, which premiered on BBC One in June 2015, introduced a string of other measures to go green – earning it a three star rating by industry certification scheme albert+, which encourages production sustainability. Materials for props, paints and timber were sourced sustainably, with water-based paints and FSC timber chosen for the set. Low-energy lighting was used in the efficiently-run studio, while the team reduced the amount of paper consumed by not printing scripts, and 92% of waste was recycled. The catering team sourced sustainable food alongside water fountains and reusable bottles rather than using plastic bottles for water, all of which significantly reduced the team’s carbon footprint.

Howard Ella, Line Producer of The Interceptor, says: “Reaching the albert+ three-star rating is testament to how dedicated the team was right from the start. Everyone from catering, set designers, script editors and actors fully embraced the task to ensure the show was produced as sustainably as possible. It’s such an important thing to do and something all of us programme makers should be doing as a matter of course, if you plan ahead it’s a win-win situation – for the production and the environment. None of what we did was rocket science, it’s just a case of changing habits and embracing a new culture in the industry.”

The BBC is increasing the number of productions that will undertake albert+, and these will all consider how their travel footprint can be reduced by using low emission vehicles.

You can find out more about the BBC’s commitment to sustainability and involvement in albert+ here: