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Monday, 17 February 2014

Pinewood Studios Wales - Ed Thomas and Michael Grade

Following up the Michael Grade writeup from last week - remember the part about how he wanted the BBC to sell off their studio assets? And yours truly commenting that it sounded as though he wanted the BBC to hold a fire sale, so Pinewood Studios (where he's "non-executive chairman") could expand cheaply? That was mostly a facetious comment, but Pinewood has been trying to expand for a while without much luck (South Bucks kept turning down their planning applications to expand their studios in Buckinghamshire, and they sank so much money into those proposed developments that the company recorded a fiscal loss in 2012.)

Well, today the BBC is reporting that Pinewood is going to be building a huge new studio complex in Cardiff (180,000 square feet, or just five thousand more than Roath Lock), "Pinewood Studios Wales". This (ought to be) good news for Wales, since it means local jobs n' all.  It's a sweet deal for Pinewood as well - the Welsh government has not only agreed to help set up the new studios, but has given Pinewood exclusive advising rights on a new 30 million pound investment fund for television and film. Which is probably not going to go to BBC productions, then.

In fact, the only way it could have been better for Pinewood was if they'd acquired fully-functional studios instead of having to wait for them...but it'd be terribly cynical to think that Michael Grade, aware of the impending press release, wistfully thought of how nice it'd be if the BBC had handed over the Doctor Who studios into the bargain. Terribly cynical indeed. Still, it'd mean he's human enough to indulge in wistful thinking.

This is Ed Thomas, from a South Wales article about Da Vinci's Demons. They still went with a picture of him in the TARDIS.
Meantime, it'll increase opportunities for local televisual talent in the area, so it should be good news for the BBC too. Ed Thomas, who handled production design for DW all the way through the Davies era and into Moffat's first year, had this to say: "Attracting Pinewood to Wales is a real testament and vote of confidence to the creative film and television industry here. Its brand and unique history are second to none in the studio business and for them to have chosen Wales as their second home can only be a good thing for an ever expanding sector." And he'd know - he helped arrange for the Starz-Fox co-production "Da Vinci's Demons" to film in Wales.

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