BAFTA nominee Richard Harrington claims Doctor Who “doesn’t reflect Wales”.
Merthyr-born Richard, who stars as DC Luke French in BBC1’s Holby Blue, said that BBC Wales’ reprisal of the family sci-fi show – itself nominated for eight Bafta Cymru awards – has had little impact on the arts in Wales.
“Doctor Who and Torchwood are marvellous,” said Richard, 33. “But they don’t reflect Wales.
“The show could have been made in Birmingham and it would not have looked any different,” continued Richard, up for Bafta Cymru Best Actor for his portrayal of a deranged psychiatrist in the low-budget horror movie Daddy’s Girl.
Written and directed by David Evans, Daddy’s Girl also stars Jamie Winstone, daughter of movie legend Ray Winstone.
Shot in Wales on a budget of £400,000, it has won critical acclaim, yet it has never been released in cinemas, instead being released straight to DVD, a decision which has frustrated Harrington deeply.
“I’ve a Bafta nomination for a film that nobody has seen,” he said.
“I must be a legend in petrol stations and bargain buckets up and down the land – I’ve been in so many films that have not seen the light of day.
“I take my hat off to Dave for writing and getting a film together for less than half-a-million quid – and making it look amazing. Yet I don’t know why it never got released in the cinema.
“I first watched it with Bafta in Piccadilly with about 500 people and I thought ‘Wow, this is really good’
“Then I watched it in Wales with some of the Welsh media and there was an element of hostility in the audience.
“The film was being judged even before the lights went down.
“Yet the talent is here.
“Torchwood reflects Wales a lot more because there are more Welsh actors working on it.”
Torchwood is itself nominated for four Bafta Cymru awards.
“Yet for Doctor Who they shipped a load of people down from London to make the show,” he added.
Richard, who recently starred as Welsh surgeon Allan Woodcourt in the BBC’s adaptation of Dickens’ novel Bleak House, said that he would love to work more in Wales, but that the opportunities are limited.
“I’d love to get more work in Wales,” said Richard, who now lives in London with his partner Nerys and their two children.
“But the opportunities just aren’t there.”
Now working on New Tricks with Alun Armstrong, he continued: “It is so frustrating.
“Wales is a cauldron of talent.
“But there’s not enough of an infrastructure.
“Certainly not if you are an actor. Not unless you are getting regular work on Pobol y Cwm as a Welsh-speaking actor, then you can’t make a living there.
“Things needs to change a bit in Wales, particularly the work ethic in acting.
“It’d be great to see great single regional dramas coming out of there, like a Poppy Shakespeare or White Teeth.
“Television is a really powerful medium. We’ve proven that we can make good telly in Wales.
“But I think we should be inspiring a lot more writers to write things about where they’re from – and don’t compromise on it.
“Wales needs to have the confidence in itself to bring the writers out and to come out of Cardiff and make something that will just explode.
“We need more great writing – because Wales is a great place.”
BBC Wales defended “the Welshness” of Doctor Who, the product of writer Russell T Davies and producer Julie Gardner – both of whom are from Wales.
“These are Richard’s personal opinions and he is entitled to express his feelings,” said a BBC Wales spokesman.
“However, Doctor Who has made a significant impact on broadcasting, the creative industries and the wider arts in Wales.
“Through its huge success it has put both Cardiff and Wales on a global map.
“It uses local talent both on screen and behind-the-scenes, with the majority of the production team consisting of Welsh people.
“Torchwood’s impact has also been considerable. It is filmed in Cardiff, using mainly Welsh actors and is a very obviously Welsh production. These two productions have raised the profile and credibility of Wales as a world class location for producing world class programmes.
“They are developing local talent and supporting local services. The benefits they have brought to Wales should not be underestimated.”
No-one from the Arts Council of Wales was prepared to comment.
Bafta Cymru winners will be announced at a ceremony on April 27.