Clare Hudson, Head of English Programming BBC Wales, Interview (20/01/2011)

To say that the day was totally nerve-racking would be the understatement of the year, yet at the same time, it was one opportunity that I had been looking forward to and was feeling very lucky to get in the first place. It all started in early December, when I was still in the planning stages for my documentary and panicking because I hadn’t managed to organise an interview with anyone from the BBC. Considering my documentary is based around the building of the BBC’s drama centre in Cardiff Bay, it’s needless to say that I saw this as a very big problem! However, after having a meeting with my lecturer and discussing who I could contact, I went home and emailed a list of people at  BBC Wales, including Piers Wenger the head of drama and  Menna Richards the current Director of BBC Wales. Luckily for me however, Clare Hudson, head of English Language Programmes at BBC Wales, sent me an email back saying she would be willing to do an interview.

Jump back forward in time to Thursday 20th January, with Lyndon and I sat in a taxi heading to the BBC headquarters in Llandaff and feeling very, very nervous. On the advice of my lecturers, I arranged to get to the BBC early, so that we had time to sign in at the reception desk and to set up the camera and shot that I wanted for the interview. After signing in, we were met with Clare Hudson’s PA, who took us to her office, where the interview would be taking place. For the interview, I had debated whether there would be a need to take lighting equipment with me, in case the room that we were filming would be too dark, however after emailing Clare’s PA a few days before the interview and confirming the details of exactly where the interview would be taking place and what the lighting was like, I decided that this wouldn’t be necessary.

As Clare Hudson’s profile states on the BBC Wales website, she has responsibility for all the programming that is broadcast on BBC One & BBC Two Wales, as well as managing network programmes produced by BBC Wales and managing its Factual & Music and Drama departments. Due to her position at the broadcaster, this made Clare an ideal person to interview for my documentary.

Overall, the interview itself seemed to go very well and Clare was a great person to interview and should be a real asset to my documentary. The comments she made in the interview were very detailed and clearly answered the questions that I asked her. Yet, it was interesting to hear from someone like Clare, who is part of BBC Wales’ management team and hear exactly what the BBC’s purpose is in building the drama centre in Cardiff and what they think its impact will be on Wales. The BBC’s prediction seems to be that it will have a positive impact, not just for them, but for Wales and its media industry; an expectation that seems to be held by the National Assembly deputy leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones and construction firm, Igloo Regeneration. Both groups are hoping that with the building of the drama centre will lead to the development of a new “Digital Media Centre” as Igloo have said that they know of other existing media companies that are also interested in moving to the area. As Mark Hallett, director of Igloo Regeneration states “…the BBC’s move to the Bay would be ‘the catalyst for a whole new creative industries quarter in the city’. ” Therefore, to a certain extent, it can be argued that the development of the drama centre in Cardiff is key to marking the city as Wales’ media capital.

Yet it’s not only other media companies and BBC productions that the drama centre is meant to benefit. As a public service broadcaster (PSB), the BBC has many responsibilities, purposes and agreements that it has to stick by as it is funded by the public through the TV license. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the drama centre is actually part of a commitment made by the BBC to double television network output from Wales by 2016. This links into what one of the BBC’s key purposes in its charter, which states that the broadcaster’s programming should represent “…the UK, its nations, regions and communities.” In other words, by building the drama centre in Wales, the BBC is hoping that it will be able to create an image that it is making network programmes that are targeted and aimed at audiences across the UK, rather than producing productions in London, that only a certain percentage of the UK audience may be able to relate to. As stated in a press release, the BBC is committed to “…build a BBC for the whole of the UK by bringing productions closer to the audiences the BBC serves.”

Links/Sources:

BBC Cymru Wales Names New Drama Centre Leader

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2010/08/27_

Accessed: 15/11/2010

BBC Plans New Home In Cardiff Homeland

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/cardiff-news/2010/01/19/bbc-plan

Accessed: 15/11/2010

Clare Hudson’s profile, BBC Wales Commissioning Website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/info/sites/commissioning/pages/contacts_clarehudson.shtml

Accessed: 22/01/2011

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