Creative Wales – the Welsh Government agency that promotes the nation’s creative industries – is celebrating an exciting time for the Welsh screen industry, with the production of six new dramas all set in Wales. These are: Steeltown Murders, Wolf, Tree on a Hill, Men Up, Lost Boys and Fairies, and The Way.
Steeltown Murders and Wolf are available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.
The latest boom comes as a result of close partnership working between Welsh Government and BBC Cymru Wales, who have been working closely to ensure creative talent is offered the opportunities and support needed to produce high-quality content.
Creative Wales provides a holistic approach to industry support, offering unique funding streams, like the recently launched Development Funding which supports project development within TV, games and commercial animation, and Production Funding available for screen and digital sectors. This support has been crucial in drawing new productions to the region, creating new opportunities for creatives and local communities.
Since its inception in 2020, Creative Wales has invested £16.3m in Production Funding to 31 projects, generating over £187m into the Welsh economy, and created thousands of opportunities for Wales’ talented workforce, with 265 paid placements created for trainees looking to break into the industry.
The six dramas featured as part of the Year of Welsh Drama created 50 trainee placements at entry level and a further ten placements to up-skill crew members.
Unique services offered by Wales Screen also help productions to scout filming locations from across the nation’s diverse array of landscapes, from mountains to coastline, urban city-scapes and woodlands, and can link companies up to access studio facilities and experienced crew.
Speaking of his experience of filming in Wales, Hartswood Films MD Dan Cheesborough, the company behind ‘Wolf’, said: “Development of a creatively challenging series like Wolf requires the best talent, and so much of that organically came together thanks to our decision to base the series in Wales. We were drawn to create Wolf in Wales because of the locations and resources on offer, having mountains, beaches, and studios within an hour’s drive is so valuable, and not something you can find in many parts of the UK.
“What we continue to find when we film in Wales is that there is also industry-leading talent. Much of the crew and cast in Wolf is Welsh, which gave us the opportunity to work with fantastically talented people that we otherwise may not have connected with. Ultimately, the support given to the creative industries by Creative Wales is a major reason we are able to continue to bring our projects to Wales.
“We have been filming in Wales for a decade now and have seen constant evolution in the development of the sector in that time, with action towards developing future talent for the sector. There is a huge amount of support on offer to help the screen industry to bring ambitious productions to life, but also a mindful and proactive effort to elevate growth towards a diverse and sustainable sector that supports the communities on which the screen industry relies, something that is setting up Wales to be a leader for film and television – not only in the UK but on a global stage.”
Ffion Williams, Writer and Producer on Tree On A Hill/Pren Ar Y Bryn for Fiction Factory Films said: “Thanks to the support on offer in Wales, including Creative Wales, we are able to not only create new series in Wales, but we also have the opportunity to give a global platform to Welsh stories, history and culture for the first time. Wales is quickly becoming a magnet for storytellers. Whether drawn in by the stunning landscapes or, like us, by the close-knit communities and their rich, emotive stories, there are endless opportunities for creatives in Wales.”
Gerwyn Evans, Deputy Director of Creative Wales, added: “The industry-leading resources and talent on offer for the television and film sector is making Wales a popular choice for new productions that take an ambitious approach to storytelling: whether that’s in their creative approach, bold moves toward sustainability or in opening doors for greater diversity in the creative industries.
“It’s important to us that this vibrant industry has a sustainable, ethical future that can also give back to the economy and people of Wales. The incredible series of dramas coming out of Wales are part of a bigger story: a screen sector that is growing and attracting interest from studios and producers globally and providing exciting career opportunities for people here in Wales. The future of television and film in Wales is bright, and we are focussed on supporting the development of talent from within to support the growing sector.”
The best new Welsh dramas coming in 2023/4
If you enjoyed Life on Mars, you’ll like: Steeltown Murders
Stars: Phillip Glenister, Richard Harrington and Keith Allen
Where to watch: Streaming now on BBC iPlayer
Steeltown Murders is a four-part television series based on Wales’ biggest murder hunt, as police hunt the killer of three teenage girls in Neath and Port Talbot, Wales, in 1973. Jumping between the 1973 and the early 2000s police investigations, Steeltown Murders looks at the human and community impact of unsolved crime, loss and grief, as the police try to discover who committed the murders – against a backdrop of rugged landscapes and tightly interwoven rural communities.
If you enjoyed The Fall, you might like Wolf
Stars: Iwan Rheon, Juliet Stevenson and Owen Teale.
Where to watch: Streaming now on BBC iPlayer
Wolf is a captivating six-part series about a family who are held hostage in their own home by a couple of criminals with a nefarious mission. With the only clue hinting that the family’s in danger being a message in their dog’s collar, police inspector Jack Caffery must work tirelessly to find the truth, all while dealing with his own trauma over the unsolved disappearance of his brother 20 years earlier.
If you enjoyed Hinterland/Y Gwyll, you might like Tree On A Hill/Pren Ar Y Bryn
Stars: Rhodri Meilir, Nia Roberts, Hannah Daniel and Richard Harrington
Where to watch: Coming to S4C later this year and BBC in early 2024
Written, Created and Directed by Ed Thomas (Hinterland/Y Gwyll, House of America), the six part series was filmed on location in Ystradgynlais on the River Tawe at the edge of the Brecon Beacons and in Swansea Bay Studios
Laced with humour and a touch of the absurd Pren ar y Bryn/Tree on a Hill is a story with Margaret and Clive Lewis at its heart. These unlikely heroes’ quiet lives are changed in an instant when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Set in a bypassed town at the edge of a valley, this is a story about crumbling values, resilience and transgression being the key to liberation.
If you enjoyed This is Going to Hurt, you might like Men Up
Stars: Iwan Rheon, Steffan Rhodri and Paul Rhys
Where to watch: Coming to BBC later this year
Men Up is inspired by the true story about of a group of ordinary middle-aged Welsh men who took part in one of the first clinical trials for an unknown drug which later became Viagra. This one of the world’s first medical trials for Viagra, held in Swansea’s Morriston Hospital in 1994. The series combines drama and humour, in a story about how a group of unassuming men rise to the challenge to reclaim their sex lives.
If you enjoyed Best Interests you might like: The Way
Stars: Luke Evans, Callum Scott Howells, and Michael Sheen
Where you can watch it: Coming to BBC later this year
The Way taps into the social and political chaos of today’s world by imagining a civil uprising which begins in a small industrial town. The series is based around the Driscolls, an ordinary family, in an extraordinary story of life, death and survival who get caught in a chain of events and power struggles that unleash civil unrest. The family are forced to escape the country they have always lived in and the certainties of their old lives.
If you enjoyed Couples Therapy you might like: Lost Boys and Fairies
Stars: Sion Daniel Young, Fra Fee, and Alexandria Riley
Where to watch: BBC in 2024
Lost Boys and Fairies is based on a true story that advocates for the rights of the gay community to parent a child. The series follows main character, Gabriel, a singer and performer who works at the queer nightclub Neverland in Cardiff. He adopts a child, Jake, with his partner Andy. However, to truly be able to parent his son Jake, he must first revisit his own painful and traumatic past and repair the delicate relationship he has with his own father.