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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is Dr. Who welsh enough?

The Western Mail carries an interesting article today in which Merthyr Tydfil-born actor Richard Harrington alleges that Doctor Who “doesn’t reflect Wales”. Mr. Harrington alleges that “The show could have been made in Birmingham and it would not have looked any different.”

On this issue I agree with Dr. Who producer, Julie Gardner who says that, “Doctor Who has made a significant impact on broadcasting, the creative industries and the wider arts in Wales.
“Through its huge success it has put both Cardiff and Wales on a global map."

“It uses local talent both on screen and behind-the-scenes, with the majority of the production team consisting of Welsh people."

“Torchwood’s impact has also been considerable. It is filmed in Cardiff, using mainly Welsh actors and is a very obviously Welsh production. These two productions have raised the profile and credibility of Wales as a world class location for producing world class programmes."

“They are developing local talent and supporting local services. The benefits they have brought to Wales should not be underestimated.”

BBC Wales also produces Ashes to Ashes which is filmed entirely in London, in contrast to Dr. Who, which uses Welsh locations. Elsewhere in the paper, Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones asks for more. He wants BBC Wales to produce more programmes for the network.

It is hard to disagree with him but perhaps he is better directing his fire at ITV Wales first. The only production they have put on for the ITV network so far is H.G. Wells' 'The History of Mr. Polly'.
That's a bit unfair of the Western Mail to Doctor Who. Most of the time Cardiff is being a stunt double for London, or even elsewhere in the UK (like Scotland) or galaxy for that matter with the rare story requiring it to actually be Cardiff, usually when the Doctor ned to replenish on fuel.

When you consider that Torchwood is based in Cardiff you can see that that certainly has a very Welsh flavour, including several Welsh accents.
They've used Swansea Marina, Worms Head, The Senedd and Margam Park.

What next? The doctor is turned to lava bread or "Daleks at the Eisteddfod" Englyn-ate Englyn-ate
I think it is ridiculous to complain that Doctor Who isn't Welsh enough, but I do think it would be nice if it were a little less London-centric. There's no reason why so much of the action should take place in London and it would be nice if they toured the UK a little bit more.
I quite like the idea of the Daleks turning up at the Eisteddfod. They could do a deal with the Archdruid to exterminate all those speaking English.
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