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Doctor Who will have a change of filming location for 2023

The series will move from its longtime home of Roath Lock Studios to Wolf Studios Wales when Russell T Davies takes over.

Doctor Who
Published: Thursday, 11th November 2021 at 3:40 pm

Fire up the TARDIS – Doctor Who is on the move.

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It’s been confirmed by top executives that the BBC sci-fi series will no longer film at its longtime production home of Roath Lock Studios, Cardiff, instead taking up residence at the nearby Wolf Studios Wales when incoming showrunner Russell T Davies takes over for 2023.

“We have also got Doctor Who (from 2023) which is pretty major and back to the dream team of Russell T Davies writing and that is going to be based in Wolf Studios Wales,” Bad Wolf director Natasha Hale told BusinessLive.

This confirmation isn’t a complete surprise, of course. When Davies’ return to Doctor Who (after being in charge from 2005-2010) was announced, many fans were quick to note the other big news hidden in the press release, with the BBC ceding creative control of the show to an outside production company for the first time – His Dark Materials, Discovery of Witches and Industry producers Bad Wolf Studios.

Bad Wolf, headed by Davies’ former Who collaborators Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, have their own base of productions including office space and various large stages, so it makes sense that Doctor Who would make the move. And this shift in filming locations could be more notable than it first appears.

While it’s not a huge geographical change – Roath Lock and Wolf Studios are literally a 30-minute walk apart around the Cardiff Bay area – it does have implications for production, as the scale of Wolf Studios is bigger than Roath Lock, with the complex boasting some of the biggest studio space in Wales and soundstages that rival the scale of the iconic 007 stage in Pinewood.

His Dark Materials set building at Wolf Studios Wales (BBC)

His Dark Materials set building at Wolf Studios Wales (BBC)

Its largest stage, Stage 6, is nearly 60 feet tall (and about 16 feet taller than the 007 stage) and in general Wolf Studios offers (according to its website) 125,000 square feet of stage space. For His Dark Materials, this has meant vast, high sets (including mountaintop labs, arctic mountains and huge, towering trees) are able to be built in-house.

In other words, in theory this move could mean that the scale of Doctor Who’s sets and production could get bigger under the auspices of Bad Wolf, with bigger builds and more in-depth worlds created in their large space. It’s an exciting move, basically, that many will be keen to see the results of when it happens.

As for what will happen to Roath Lock Drama Village, the future’s still bright. Doctor Who (which moved there during the Matt Smith era from its previous home at Upper Boat in Pontypridd, now closed) is not the only show that uses the space, with Casualty making its permanent home there alongside Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm.

Russell T Davies

Russell T Davies

And with Doctor Who moving on, there might now be room for more dramas to move in. Previously, the BBC has shot other dramas at the space, including Who spin-off Class and Russell T Davies’ take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream – and with more and more production moving to Wales (just recently including Tom Hardy’s Havoc, Disney Plus series Willow, Industry and His Dark Materials, alongside Doctor Who itself) it seems likely Roath Lock won’t have any trouble getting more people interested in shooting there.

Still, it’s a slightly poignant end to an era for a studio that has been, for many fans and the people who make the show, the physical home of Doctor Who for quite a few years (and the entirety of the Peter Capaldi/Jodie Whittaker eras). Now, we'll need to add a new spot to our maps to try and spy on filming…

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Doctor Who airs on BBC One on Sundays. For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.

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