Rising Star - Gavin Boyland

From filming mountain gorillas with Sigourney Weaver, to chasing mammoths across Siberia, I’ve now worked on and off for the Natural History Unit for 15 years. Specialising in popular, presenter lead natural history my most recent credits include Monkey Planet, World’s Sneakiest Animals and Animal Babies. I’m currently series producing Big Cats, the ultimate portrait of the cat family. The NHU is an incredibly creative, supportive and aspiring place to work. I’ve been lucky to work with amazing teams over the years and am always proud to watch any of our output. 

BBC Studios NHU - from its home in Bristol BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit has for over half a century pioneered use of ground-breaking technical and creative innovation to open our eyes to the wonders of the natural world. Trusted by countless fans across the globe, our portfolio of iconic programming is the gold standard for the industry. Ranging from technically challenging live shows to super-landmark series, our content includes Planet Earth II, Life in the Snow, Autumnwatch, and Elephant Family and Me.

"Gavin has just recently taken on Series Producer responsibilities and in a very short time has demonstrated real skills and aplomb in running a happy motivated and agile team keeping story at the heart and safety paramount and communicating at a very sophisticated level with commissioner and management and teams.  Basically everyone loves working with Gavin!"

We ask our Rising Star a few key questions:

What was your first break in the business?

I met up with Martin Hughes Games, then Head of Development at the NHU, now the host of Springwatch. It turned out we had the exact same taste in TV. We talked for an hour about various shows, from dramas and documentaries to reality. At the end of the meeting he offered me a job. He never asked if I had a degree, any previous experience, or knew the first thing about production. I did have a degree.

What was your best of career move?

Although I came into the business because of my passion for wildlife, I took opportunities to work in a variety of different genres, including obs doc, reality, and home improvements, which gave me a strong grounding in the grammar of TV production. Now firmly committed to natural history, I feel this broad experience has made me a much better programme maker. It enabled me to gain huge amounts of experience in a short amount of time and opened my eyes to the wider industry.

What do you love about your job and this business?

Although most of time I sit in the office, I love the natural world and every day I learn something new about it. I love the creativity of producing shows and the challenges of bringing a subject that is close to my heart to a broad audience. I hope my shows entertain and enthrall, passing on some of my fascination and enthusiasm to other people.

How do you like to watch content? - TV? Web ? SVOD? …Tell us Why? 

I do use SVOD a lot, but I’m still a sucker for a good old fashion schedule. I still watch live TV all the time, there’s so much content out there I don’t mind being guided. But then again I also still buy CDs.

What kinds of natural history films would you like to see commissioned/ see more of? And why?

I think the move towards feature length documentaries and feature film natural history is brilliant. I’ve also thought the power and wonder of the natural world is strong enough to transfer to the big screen, and the issues around conservation, and our changing planet, are so huge and all-encompassing they translate perfectly to the best contemporary documentaries.

What is your proudest achievement?

Two shows I’ve produced have featured on Gogglebox, does that count?

What’s your dream job?

I would have made a brilliant front man of a rock band - pity I can’t sing and am basically tone deaf.

What are you working on now?

I’m in the final stages of finishing Big Cat the definitive portrait of the entire cat family. It’s been such an amazing experience, it's hard to believe it’s drawing to a close. Cats are tough to film, really tough, and it’s been an incredibly hard series to make at times, but I’m really proud of the end product and can’t wait for people across the planet to see it. I’m also really proud that we’ve also been able to tackle some of the major conservation issues facing cats.

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