The studios house BBC drama productions including Doctor Who (and its spin-off Class), Casualty and Pobol y Cwm. The centre topped out on 20 February 2011 and filming for such productions commenced in autumn of the same year.
The facility is located on a development site known as Porth Teigr, which includes a proposed 40,000sq ft digital media centre and an interactive exhibition titled Doctor Who Experience. The facility has 500 to 600 people working on site.
The successful planning application sought permission for a 300m long, 20,000 square metre building housing studios and offices with a distinctive façade and repeating motifs. It will also have a gothic-style entrance inspired by some of William Burges’ designs at Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch. The planning application showed the building would face the National Assembly’s Tŷ Hywel building and the Atradius building across the water of Roath Basin.
The 175,000 square foot of studios were constructed and fitted out within 13 months, marking the quickest BBC build of its size ever.
A £2.5m bridge linking the drama village to Cardiff Bay has been lifted into place. The bridge was manufactured in nearby Newport from where it was broken down into 12 pieces to allow transportation to Cardiff Bay.
Programmes confirmed to be produced at the studios include:
- Doctor Who
- Pobol y Cwm (for S4C)
- Upstairs Downstairs
- Wizards vs Aliens
After the studios, offices and external filming lots were fully fitted out, filming for Pobol y Cwm and Casualty began in autumn 2011. Doctor Who moved into the 170,000 sq ft (15,800 sq m) site in 2012. The Sarah Jane Adventures was also scheduled to move to the facility in 2012, but future production of the series was halted in April 2011 due to the death of lead actress Elisabeth Sladen and will no longer continue. The village is part of the BBC's commitment to double television network production from Cardiff by 2016.
Roath Basin is the largest single remaining undeveloped site in Cardiff Bay. It consists of approximately 27 acres and has an outline planning permission for 1,000 new homes and 100,000 sq m of commercial floor space. Igloo Regeneration, which is an investment fund managed by Aviva Investments, was selected by the Assembly Government as the Development Partner for the project.
Investment of £8.5 million is needed to provide a road connection through the site providing both private and public transport from Pierhead Street through to the Norwegian Church, where a new bridge will need to be constructed over the existing lock-entrance to the dock.
The project comprises two distinct, but inter-dependent, components; the regeneration of the currently derelict, former dock side land at Roath Basin would be commenced by Assembly Government investment into the site infrastructure, and the BBC Drama Village, which would total some 170,000 sq ft (16,000 m2) of television studios and ancillary accommodation, as well as a new office building, which could be operated as a "Digital Media Centre" where a range of BBC supply-chain companies and existing Welsh-based Creative Industry Sector businesses would be able to be accommodated.
- BBC Wales drama village name unveiled as Roath Lock
- BBC News | BBC Wales Drama village's first phase completed
- Wales Online | Tiger Bay inspires name for BBC site
- Chris Kane (15 September 2011). "Roath Lock Opens For Business". BBC.
- Wales Online | BBC’s drama village would bring TV shows to Cardiff Bay
- BBC News | Work starts on BBC Wales drama village in Cardiff Bay
- WalesOnline | Cardiff Bay Drama Village ‘new home for Upstairs Downstairs’
- "The Sarah Jane Adventures, 04th May 2011". BBC website. 2011-05-04. Archived from the original on 5 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- Welsh Assembly Government | Proposed BBC Drama Village at Media Capital, Roath Basin