First Minister opens Roath Lock studios

Roath Lock Doctor Who will be filmed at the Roath Lock studios

The BBC's new drama studios in Cardiff were officially opened by Wales first minister Carwyn Jones on Monday.

Over the weekend more than a thousand members of the public were able to tour the facility, peering behind the scenes of shows such as Casualty, Upstairs Downstairs and Pobol y Cwm.

The studios, which were built in just 14 months, mark the first phase of the redevelopment of a 38-acre site at Porth Teigr by the Welsh Government and property developers igloo. Filming started at Roath Lock last September when Casualty moved there from Bristol.

Director of BBC Cymru Wales, Rhodri Talfan Davies said: 'We know our audiences in Wales are very proud of BBC Wales' drama success - and this opening weekend of events has been a chance to say 'thank you' for all their support. ..I have a real sense that the creative possibilities here are limitless.'

Facts: Roath Lock

Upstairs Downstairs
  • 9 studios and 3 external lots with HD kits
  • Includes what's believed to be the largest green screen in Europe
  • BBC are sole tenants of the Welsh government-owned site and have committed for 20 years
  • BBC's fit-out cost is under £10m, not including annual rent of £1.35m
  • Design by property developers Igloo represents key shows: first aid crosses for Casualty, sci-fi gothic for Doctor Who, and silhouettes of hills and floral cutouts for Pobol y Cwm

The facility includes the biggest BBC-owned studio in the UK and brand new CBBC series Aliens Vs Wizards, written by Russell T Davies, and the seventh series of Doctor Who will start filming there in the next few months.

The decision to create the new studios on Cardiff Bay was spurred by the BBC's out-of-London strategy, announced in 2008. The size of three football pitches, Roath Lock is home to nine studios, three external filming lots as well as post-production facilities and BBC Wales drama offices.

The director general, Mark Thompson, also welcomed the new facility, explaining: 'We're tapping into the great talent, the great creative ideas and the great tradition of storytelling that already exist in Wales and we're exploring new talent, new possibilities and new opportunities.'

As part of the plan to spend 50% of the network budget outside London by 2016, Wales was proposed as a centre of excellence for drama (and factual) after success with Doctor Who and its spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Other dramas that film in Cardiff include Sherlock, Merlin and Being Human.

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