Work starts on BBC Wales drama village in Cardiff Bay

An artist's impression of the production centre An artist's impression of the new BBC Wales drama village in Cardiff Bay

Work on a new production village at the heart of BBC Wales drama has begun.

The 170,000 sq ft (15,800 sq m) site will eventually house productions including Casualty, Pobol y Cwm, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Doctor Who.

Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures are to move from their studios near Pontypridd in 2012, and the first Casualty episode made in Wales will be on screens early in 2012.

The centre at Roath Basin will also house creative media firms.

The village is part of the BBC's commitment to double television network production from Wales by 2016.

Karen Gillan and Matt Smith, as Amy Pond and the Doctor in Doctor Who Karen Gillan and Matt Smith, as Amy Pond and the Doctor in Doctor Who

Once the studios, offices and external filming lots are fully fitted out, filming will begin for Casualty and Pobol y Cwm in autumn 2011.

BBC Cymru Wales director Menna Richards met key partners from the Welsh Assembly Government, igloo Regeneration, Cardiff council and construction company, Vinci, on site as construction work began.

She said: "Today marks an important milestone on the journey to creating a dynamic new community here - a focal point for the creative industries whose ripple effect will be felt across Wales.

"As a centre of excellence for drama it will bring a brand new buzz to this historic part of Cardiff and will offer fantastic facilities and filming space to some of the BBC's best-loved productions."

'Digital media'

Currently, BBC Wales produces drama output at two separate sites at Llandaff in Cardiff and Upper Boat, near Pontypridd, as well as a number of locations around Wales.

Economy Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones described the new centre as the lynchpin for the wider development of a dynamic creative industries hub, creating jobs and stimulating community regeneration.

He said: "The Roath Basin site represents one of the most significant waterfront opportunities in the UK and our plans include a new digital media centre to accommodate a range of businesses in the sector and support future growth.

"The creative industries are a key sector and its growth forms a key strand of our new economic renewal programme designed to build a stronger, more sustainable economy for the future."

Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman said: "It's fantastic to see work commencing on the new BBC drama village here in Cardiff that, when complete, will position the capital at the forefront of the creative industries.

Dalek

"Cardiff is already home to Doctor Who and Torchwood with Casualty to follow and I know the drama village is seen by the BBC as part of its ongoing plans for increasing its production and development presence in Cardiff which can only be a massive boost for the city.

"Cardiff is developing a very strong reputation as a creative industries hub. The development of this sector is becoming an increasingly important part of our local economy, benefiting not just the city but the whole of the region."

The event at Roath Basin included a Dalek and a robot monster from Doctor Who, as well an ambulance and a Cwmderi road sign, from Pobol y Cwm, the Welsh language soap made by BBC Wales for S4C.

The BBC confirmed last year that the filming of Casualty would switch from Bristol to Cardiff in 2011.

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