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Dr Who provides huge boost to Wales’ economy and creative industries

23 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Dr Who Rhossili production shot. Image: BBC

Stephen Price

The BBC’s popular Doctor Who series contributed approximately £134.6m to the Welsh economy between 2004 and 2021, a new report has revealed.

The analysis has been released to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the world’s longest running action adventure TV series.

It considers the impact of Doctor Who from the start of production on Series 1 to 13, concluding that the regeneration of the show in Wales has acted as a catalyst for investment in the South Wales creative cluster and its specialism in high-end television and drama production.

Immense growth

The economic impact report also finds that Doctor Who’s return was a pivotal moment, driving immense growth of the Welsh creative industries over the last 15 to 20 years.

The screen sector – comprising of production, post-production, digital and special effects for film and TV, and TV broadcasting – is now the largest of the five Creative Industry sub-sectors prioritised by the Welsh Government, accounting for more than £459m turnover in 2022.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said:  “It’s been really satisfying to see the success of Doctor Who since being produced in Wales and the strong association the iconic programme has with our nation.”

He added: “The Doctor’s return has been a key driver in building the reputation of the Welsh screen industry and our highly skilled creative sector ensures Doctor Who continues to push the boundaries for sci-fi on TV. Penblwydd Hapus to The Doctor – here’s to many incarnations to come!”

Tremendous legacy

Welcoming the report, the Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie, said: “In 2004 we decided to reboot Doctor Who in Wales. That decision has a tremendous legacy we can be proud of. It has delivered over £134 million to the Welsh economy – and over a quarter of a billion to the UK as whole. That is truly remarkable.”

Doctor Who’s lasting legacy in Wales is being replicated across the UK as more and more BBC programmes and services move their content outside of London and into the nations and regions.

Interviewed as part of the report, Russell T Davies, who was the Showrunner of Doctor Who for Series 1-4 and has returned as Showrunner for the new episodes that launch this weekend.

He said: “When people say, Oh, a television or television drama cost £2 million. But what that means is £2 million goes into Cardiff. £2 million to the drivers and the office staff and the hospitality, the hotels and then pubs and the bars, and then supermarkets. It’s £2 million ploughed into Cardiff.”

The report highlights that BBC network production in Wales was relatively limited prior to 2004, but the success of Doctor Who this gave the industry confidence that Wales could deliver and kicked off a remarkable series of drama commissions. It paved the way for big BBC-commissioned shows from Torchwood to Merlin to Atlantis to Sherlock. This year sees no less than six new drama titles from Wales including Steeltown Murders, Wolf and Men Up.

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7 months ago

No it doesn’t. Just like all the other programmes made by Wales for England. It benefits England!

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 months ago
Reply to  Riki

I’m sure all the Welsh production team and crew members would strongly disagree, as would the BBC Cymru accountants. Maybe if we had a soaring epic multi-season series about Owain Glyndwr on 24 hour repeat on S4C you might be happy? Not all Welsh programming needs to serve your “welsh are the true British” hobby horse which, whist correct culturally, is not correct genetically, since the vast majority of British citizens are something like 80% (each) descended from the same Britons who populated these lands after the mini Ice Age. Later admixtures account for very little. So yes, Even the… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

A very nice riposte to the ‘Blood & Soil’ brigade! It’s great that so much TV and film is being made in Wales, but I do wonder how much of the money remains in Wales and isn’t syphoned out of the country in the form of profits for the various companies that aren’t based in Wales; the supermarkets, the hospitality companies etc. Even supposedly ‘local’ taxi companies are owned by externally owned parent companies, which will also expatriate profits. Whilst not wanting an epic Glyndwr series on 24/7 repeat, I do think that it would make a great, and epic… Read more »

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Thank you. I very much like your take on good Welsh TV and Film. I dare say Owain Glyndwr would make a good movie but I think I’m done with medieval stuff. Y Mabinogi thought. That’s very much up my street. Tales from Annwn, Owain’s Ravens etc. y Cap Cochion, some really deep folklore. That would go down well

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
7 months ago

I’ve never understood why Cardiff doesn’t sell itself more as the sci-fi capital of Europe seeing Terry Nation was born and bred in our capital city,? Less we forget. He was not only a Doctor Who script writer but the creator of the infamous Daleks. His talents also brought us the cult TV series Blake 7 and the apocalyptic show Survivors. And I can remember back in 2005 when BBC Wales was chosen to reboot the series how there was a lot of bigotry and xenophobia towards Wales . I even read somewhere an article in the magazine TV Zone… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Y Cymro

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