Believe it or not, I am not writing this blog purely for enjoyment – although I am having a field day as I fulfill my destiny as the fruity wordsmith. This behind-the-scenes blog, and the When Life Gives You Lemons documentary will be assessed as part of my third year grade for my degree in BA Multimedia Journalism, so it goes without saying that I’ve thought long and hard about audiences and target TV strands, and I believe that I have come up with suitable solutions to both conundrums.
For my documentary, I wanted to take a look at a previously unexplored aspect of contemporary Britain by providing an entertaining yet factual insight into realms unknown to most ‘ordinary’ Brits. In doing so, I decided to make the UK’s ever-growing fruitarian community the focal point of my project. I thought it relevant and exciting, not only because not many people I’ve spoken to have ever heard of it, but also because of today’s appetite for alternative living. Lifestyle choices, such as vegetarianism and veganism, are not only becoming more widespread in the UK, but also more trendy. It doesn’t take much to find examples of whimsical, inspiring photos under the #vegetarian and #vegan hashtags on Instagram or Twitter – platforms that young people are engaging with on an unprecedented level – which is a sure indicator that greens are in, and eating animals is so 2015.
As I said in my last post, I am obsessed with documentaries about food, nutrition, ethical living and the environment, and I don’t think I am alone amongst my peers in these fascinations. This is quite rightly demonstrated by the sheer amount of young people now adopting more sustainable eating habits, 17% of whom are now vegetarian, when compared to just over 5% of the British general public as a whole. As a result, it only makes sense that a young audience would be particularly interested in a documentary about fruitarianism, which takes something very current, like alternative living, and looks at it in one of its more extreme forms. With that in mind, I began to consider which TV channel or documentary strand might cater best to a young audience.
Immediately, I thought that BBC Three could be a viable option, due its youthful appeal, and buoyant energy. Their commissioning document says that BBC Three “will continue to be the home of modern factual content that speaks to a young audience.” Check.
In the initial planning stages of my documentary, I also considered whether to make it presenter led. Given the nature of the audience and unusual subject matter, it only made sense to approach this topic with a hint of playfulness and humour, which seems to be in keeping with what BBC Three looks for in the style and tone of its documentaries. I have tried to keep this consistent throughout my blog and social media, so as to engage and entertain a young audience. This, I thought, would be complimented by a personal, talent-led approach in my documentary, which again, fits BBC Three requirements:
“We’ll work closely with the channel to develop new talent through short-form commissions. We want new voices that take us into the heart of surprising territories and stories.”
“There are also big opportunities for series with a real sense of humour, yet having an underlying social purpose.“
However, I did consider what it was that I could offer as a presenter, that my documentary would lack without my input. In November, I went to a networking event where I had the opportunity to speak to London Live’s Reya El-Salahi, and she very gracefully imparted her wisdom. She said I must always consider why it was important that I’d be the person to tell this story, and what unique perspective I have.
I’ve thought a lot about impartiality, and that I must remain aware about how my own vegetarian views could impact the way that this documentary is portrayed. However, I think that my personal experiences as a vegetarian have allowed me to look at fruitarianism a little differently. It has made me a more open-minded person, who isn’t quite as quick to dismiss something without first learning more about it’s intricacies. Yet, the natural skeptic in me, and the critical mind that I have developed as a journalist and academic has kept me grounded, and will ensure that I explore all arguments before drawing conclusions.
What also makes my perspective unique, is that most fruitarians start their journey at the point where I am today. I’m sure that when they became vegetarians, they never thought they’d arrive at the lifestyle they later would. I’m intrigued to explore how that dietary radicalisation comes about, and whether its something that could ever appeal to more of us.