The long running saga, which was forced to move from Bristol to Cardiff, due to expensive money wasting corporation box ticking, in 2011 has now had to axe a storyline concerning smoking due to Welsh law preventing actors puffing on a cigarette indoors.
Unlike England, film and television studios are not exempt from the law which bans smoking in enclosed spaces. Programmes produced by the BBC such as London soap EastEnders can show scenes of smoking within their studio sets due to the British Government allowing for dramatic performances to include lighting up.
Now the beeb are lobbying the Welsh Assembly to update their laws to allow the same exception in the country. Cardiff has become one of the corporation’s major production outlets as part of a ‘regional roulette’ where shows have been shunted around the UK in order to be ‘more regional’ despite no on screen ‘local’ flavour being added to proceedings.
“What we are concerned about is that if we want the sky to be the limit for production in Wales, we need to be perceived as, and actually be, a can-do place where all things are possible in drama.” Says Clare Hudson, head of BBC Cymru Wales Productions in Metro Paper, adding “An independent company can go and make a show anywhere – with new tax breaks coming in there will be more American companies who make decisions utterly ruthlessly.
“We may have a situation where our drama slate within Wales is potentially damaged by people making decisions on the basis of “oh, they won’t let us smoke, that’s a key part of this drama, let’s do it somewhere else”.’
Casualty moved to its new home as part of putting more programming production outside of London. The changes also saw school drama Waterloo Road relocate from Rochdale to Glasgow in Scotland, children’s magazine show Blue Peter and BBC news programme Breakfast were moved from the capital to Salford.