During World War Two, the BBC evacuated its drama, religious and variety departments to offices on Whiteladies Road in Bristol. BBC Bristol remains the largest BBC premises outside Television Centre in London.
The activity here has provided the impetus for the development of many award-winning independent production companies, digital media companies and state-of-the-art facilities houses that have made Bristol the most important media city outside of London.
Planet Earth (BBC Natural History Unit) was the Festival Winner at Wildscreen in 2006.
The BBC is one of Bristol's biggest employers, having nearly 1,000
staff, and is home to the company's prestigious Natural History Unit (NHU), which is responsible for producing around 100 hours of television
and 50 hours of radio each year. The Unit was founded at Whiteladies
Road in 1957. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007 by broadcasting Saving
Planet Earth, a season of programmes featuring Alan Titchmarsh,
David Attenborough and many other BBC celebrities and presenters
that built awareness of endangered species and raised funds for their
The BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol was responsible for Attenborough's
landmark series of natural history programmes that began in 1979
with the 13-part series Life on Earth,
viewed by an estimated 500 million people worldwide. At the time,
it was the most ambitious series ever produced by NHU and was
followed by the equally impressive The
Living Planet (1984) The Trials
of Life (1990), The Private Life
of Plants (1995), The Life of
Birds (1998), The Life of Mammals (2002)
and Life in the Undergrowth (2005).Other
major blue chip productions from the NHU have included The
Blue Planet (2001) and Planet
Earth (2006), the first BBC wildlife series to be filmed
entirely in high-definition.
From Orphan to King (Tigress Productions), winner of the Editing Award at Wildscreen 2006.
It is thought that at least 25 per cent of natural history films shown globally originate in Bristol, and there are around 25 companies in the city, in addition to the Natural History Unit, that are working in this field. Among these are Tigress Productions Ltd and Green Umbrella. Bristol is also home to Wildscreen, the largest and most celebrated wildlife and environmental filmmaking festival in the world.
Scratch & Sniff from A Productions.
Among other independent production companies based in Bristol are Aardman Animations Ltd, founded by Peter Lord and David Sproxton who began making short films for the BBC's Bristol-made Vision On while in the sixth form, A Productions, a full service, multi discipline creative animation studio, bolexbrothers, founded in 1983 by former freelance cameramen Dave Borthwick and Dave Riddett, Fictitious Egg, the producer of 2D animation for television, broadband and commercials, and 422 South.
Clerkenwell Films shooting the series Afterlife in Bristol (2005) (South West Screen).
Bristol Film Office provides assistance at all stages of film and TV production in the city including a comprehensive online database of location possibilities, an initial location scouting service, the hosting of site visits and a general consultation service. Studios in the city include Central Studios, Farm Studios, Imagist and Endemol West. The Film Office also offers advice and assistance in carrying out feasibility studies for companies considering opening regional offices or relocating to Bristol. Productions filmed in Bristol include Only Fools and Horses, Casualty, Skins and the recent feature films Starter for Ten and The Truth About Love.
Watershed during the Encounters Film Festival (Encounters).
When Watershed opened the doors of its transformed Victorian warehouse on Bristol's Harbourside in 1982 it declared itself to be Britain's First Media Centre. It has become a significant creative hub, linking the production and consumption of media with art, technology, education and commerce. Its dShed online
showcase of digital creativity has been established to provide
a platform for artists and media producers and to act as a focus
for distribution, discussion and learning. Among the digital
media agencies based in Bristol is the award-winning E3. Hewlett Packard Labs, Bristol, which opened in 1984, has a particular interest in digital imaging, working on joint projects with some of the leading production companies.