Doctor Who kick-started creative industries in Wales

Doctor Who kick-started creative industries in Wales

tardisA new report published today (23 November) shows that the flagship BBC drama Doctor Who contributed approximately £134.6m in GVA to the Welsh economy between 2004 and 2021. 

The stats illustrate that the show has proved a catalyst for investment in the South Wales creative cluster and its subsequent specialism in high-end television and drama production

Doctor Who is credited with starting the snowball effect of drama production in Wales, with projects such as Torchwood, Merlin, Atlantis and Sherlock all making their home in the country.

So far in 2023, six new dramas have filmed in Wales including Steeltown Murders, Wolf and Men Up.

The report has been released to mark the 60th anniversary of the series – the world’s longest-running sci-fi/adventure drama, and covers the years since 2004 when Doctor Who made Cardiff its production base. Analysis by Cardiff University’s Centre for the Creative Economy for the report pinpoints Doctor Who as the moment the South Wales creative cluster shifted from strength to recognised excellence.   

The analysis – carried out by economists in the BBC Public Policy team – considers the impact of Doctor Who from the start of production on Series 1 to the most recent series with Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor (Series 13).

The report also says that for every £1 of direct economic output (GVA) generated by the production, a subsequent £0.96 of economic output was generated in Wales, making its total economic contribution £1.96. 


The screen sector in Wales (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 and accounted for more than £459m turnover in 2022.

Across the UK, Doctor Who production activities have generated £256m since the show was relaunched and produced in Wales and 87% of the title’s economic output was generated in the UK creative industries.

Doctor Who

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.

“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!”

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.

“But even this understates the transformative impact that Doctor Who has had on the creative economy – with a world class creative cluster now thriving in Wales today.

“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. We’re harnessing the creative economy across the UK; something which is paying huge dividends – for communities and for audiences.”

Russell T Davies, who was the showrunner of Doctor Who for Series 1-4 and who has recently returned as showrunner, was interviewed for the report. He enthused: “That’s why I completely love this [approach to commissioning]. I love it. 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.

“Work creates work, you know, and that has happened. The more crews get to work on stuff, more young people get trained in this stuff. So it’s more crucial for the future, and the more writers are pitching ideas. And you know, the whole thing comes over to attracting not only other international productions, [but] great regional shows as well.”

*The report does not include the 60th anniversary episodes or forthcoming season that have been produced by Bad Wolf with BBC Studios and Disney Branded Television, as the economic data beyond Series 13 is not yet complete nor available.


Matt Smith in Doctor Who


Images via BBC. 

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