A recently released report on Friday, 23rd November, discloses that the renowned series Doctor Who made a substantial contribution of approximately £134.6 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Welsh economy spanning the years 2004 to 2021. Timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the world’s longest-running action-adventure TV series, the report further illustrates that for every £1 of direct economic output (GVA) generated by the production of Doctor Who, an additional £0.96 of economic output was stimulated in Wales, resulting in a total economic contribution of £1.96.
Conducted by economists from the BBC Public Policy team, with primary research carried out by Media Cymru, the report delves into the economic impact of the iconic action-adventure series on Wales since it established Cardiff as its base in 2004. The analysis encompasses the influence of Doctor Who from the inception of Series 1 to the most recent series featuring Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor (Series 13).
A key finding of the report is that the revival of the show in Wales is widely recognized as the catalyst for investment in the South Wales creative cluster, particularly in high-end television and drama production. Cardiff University’s Centre for the Creative Economy, contributing to the report, identifies Doctor Who as the pivotal moment when the South Wales creative cluster transitioned from strength to recognized excellence.
The economic impact report also underscores that Doctor Who’s return marked a crucial moment, acting as a catalyst for the substantial growth of the Welsh creative industries over the past 15 to 20 years. The screen sector, encompassing production, post-production, digital and special effects for film and TV, and TV broadcasting, now stands as the largest among the five Creative Industry sub-sectors prioritized by the Welsh Government, with a turnover exceeding £459 million in 2022.
The impact extends beyond Wales, with Doctor Who’s production activities in the UK generating £256 million since the show’s relaunch and production in Wales, with 87% of the economic output contributing to the UK’s creative industries.
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!”
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.
“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.”
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. His first episodes broadcast this weekend; “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 details the transformation in BBC network production in Wales since 2004, crediting Doctor Who’s success for instilling confidence in the industry’s capabilities. This success paved the way for significant drama commissions such as Torchwood, Merlin, Atlantis, and Sherlock, with six new drama titles from Wales in the current year.
The move to Wales also influenced the construction of Roath Lock studios, the first purpose-built drama studio in Wales, and the transfer of the long-running hospital drama series Casualty from Bristol. Additionally, BBC Cymru Wales’ broadcasting hub in Central Square, opened in 2019, is projected to contribute over £1 billion to Cardiff’s economy by 2028, creating an additional 1,900 jobs.
The report features a case study from Real SFX, a company in the TV supply chain in Wales, specializing in special effects. The founder, Danny Hargreaves, attributes Doctor Who to providing the opportunity to establish his own business, contributing to the success of one of the nation’s biggest shows.
Company Director, Carmela Carrubba continues: “One of our very first apprentices is now running the floor on set. It is great to see them becoming technicians and supervisors growing with the company. Danny has always wanted to have a local, talented, trained crew. I think we’re now a 100% Welsh crew. All this began with the success of Doctor Who coming to Wales.”
The report, however, does not encompass the economic data for the 60th-anniversary episodes or the forthcoming season, as the information beyond Series 13 is not yet complete or available.