‘Dr Who factor’ helps bring dramas to Cardiff
16 October 2008, South Wales Echo, Nathan Bevan
The broadcaster last night announced plans to make Casualty and Crimewatch in Cardiff as part of a scheme to boost the amount of programming made in the city.
The success of cult sci-fi hit Doctor Who – and its spin-off Torchwood – has been praised for proving BBC Wales’ ability to make high- quality shows.
The plans were revealed in a speech by the Director of BBC Vision, Jana Bennett to the Royal Television Society last night in which she described the move as “a radical shift in the whole set up of broadcasting”.
She said: “Our intention is nothing less than changing the very DNA of the BBC to bring the production of programmes closer to the audience we serve.”
Crimewatch will be made in Wales from 2011, while a final decision on Casualty will be rubber-stamped next year after bosses have completed checks about the switch.
The hospital drama’s proposed move was this morning welcomed by Cardiff-born actress Rakie Ayola, who appeared as Kyla Tyson in its sister series Holby City.
The Ely-born actress, 40, said: “I think it’s terrific. BBC Wales has just gone from strength to strength. Their record is terrific and they are turning out really good work.
“I just hope the potential job opportunities are as much for the local people as the people who come from London.”
Rakie, who now lives in London and is mum to three-year-old Tansy, added there was something special about Wales that meant great programmes were always produced.
“There’s a freshness to the programmes,” said Rakie, who has also featured in Hollywood films like Sahara.
“I think people in Wales are genuinely excited to be doing the work. They are not jaded. I think people who come from London are also excited about travelling to Wales. Whatever it is, it’s certainly working.”
Politicians also greeted the move, which they said was proof of Cardiff’s growing reputation for quality TV.
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: “Moving one of BBC One’s established programmes to Wales shows confidence in the creative industries in Wales and the fact that we have the talent and track record of delivering.
“We know that there are good ideas here in Wales and shows like Doctor Who and Torchwood have shown that quality productions can be made in Wales.”
Heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones added: “We’ve been calling for more TV programmes to be made in Wales for a long time and I welcome the BBC’s decision.”
BBC Wales Controller, Menna Richards welcomed the announcement as being a huge boast for Wales.
“Bringing long-running network productions here will give a fantastic boost not only to BBC Wales but to the entire creative industry in Wales,” she said.
“Such an established programme as Crimewatch will give a great opportunity for journalists, feature writers and directors to showcase their work across a wider audience. Alongside programmes like Doctor Who, Torchwood and Pobol y Cwm, the potential move of Casualty to Wales could play a central role in our drive to build a sustainable and world-class centre of excellence for drama in Wales.”
She added: “Casualty is a flagship network show that has, for decades, proved a breeding ground for writing, production and acting talent.
“And while it’s not yet a done deal – the BBC will need to be sure the relocation from Bristol makes real financial sense – the creative logic is compelling.
“Factual production from Wales will grow significantly too, providing opportunities for both our in-house teams and a wide range of Welsh independent television companies. The independent sector in Wales has already shown its creative prowess with programmes such as Amazon with Bruce Parry, Last Chance to See with Stephen Fry and Legends.
“The new factual commissioning executive for Wales will also provide a direct link between Welsh independent companies and the network commissioning process.”