Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Wednesday, 20 July 2005 16:59 UK

Peer's 'tears of joy' at studios

Lord Attenborough

As diggers rolled in to start work on the so-called Valleywood film studios, it would have taken more than rain to dampen Lord Attenborough's mood.

As the chairman of Dragon International Studios, he has driven the project forward over the last five years.

"Delighted" was how he summed up his mood. And the rain? "Tears of joy."

The finished project will boast 12 studios, ready to make the biggest blockbuster movies, a new motorway junction and around 1,700 jobs.

I was at Stamford Bridge, watching Chelsea play football, minding my own business when this mad Welshman (Mr Villard) came up and said - would you like to build a studio in south Wales
Lord Attenborough

Talking to assembled reporters, Lord Attenborough explained that it had been a long road to reach this stage.

"I personally started to talk about this with my colleague Stuart Villard five years ago," he said.

"I was at Stamford Bridge, watching Chelsea play football, minding my own business when this mad Welshman (Mr Villard) came up and said - would you like to build a studio in south Wales.

"I said 'Gosh that's a wonderful idea, let's talk about it' - well, we have been talking for five years.

"We have been talking to the local authorities, the Welsh Assembly Government, all sorts of planning operations, permissions to do this, permissions to do that, and so on and it has taken a long time

"It is a wonderful day for us, it is actual proof to all those doubting Thomases who said 'It will never happen' and, 'Oh, it is somebody's dream' - it is happening."

He explained that the first wave of studios - the Dragon Plus section - would be ready by February 2006

I must say I laughed very much when it was first coined Valleywood
Lord Attenborough

"The degree of interest and the amount of offers to come and work here is such that we could not wait for the main studios.

"These are five quick studios that will allow TV drama and relatively small movies to come immediately.

"By the 1 October this year, we hope to have got our detailed planning permission for the main studios - seven more studios, one of 30,000 square feet, two of 20,000 square feet and so on - but a whole complex, with restaurants, the studio village, that will be ready to go in spring 2007 - there is no doubt about that.

"These studios will be as good, as sophisticated, as affordable as any studios in the world.

"They will be unique, they will have a quality of professional input second to no one in the world.

Marquee at opening
The speeches took place in a marquee at the edge of the site

"People will come here because, apart from anything else, there is a great move to take production out of London, out of the metropolis. And they are going to Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, why not here to Cardiff? I think when these studios are built, the work will come.

But while brimming over with enthusiasm for the studios, on the subject of dormice - the presence of which had held up the start of the project - the Oscar-winning director was a bit more reticent.

"Don't you mention that word dormice to us - that must have cost us four-and-a-half months," he said.

"And the heartbreaking thing was that, at the end of the day, there weren't any. We were just held up for a decision to say we could go ahead."

However, he admitted he enjoyed the site's nickname.

"I must say I laughed very much when Valleywood was first coined five years ago - whatever anyone wants to call it, it will be known for its quality and its unique offer of facilities which ought to make it a huge place where people come in the UK.



SEE ALSO
More delays for Valleywood studio
11 May 05 |  South East Wales
Mousehunt delays Valleywood
12 Jan 05 |  South East Wales
Valleywood work to start
27 Aug 04 |  Wales
Valleywood work imminent
20 Jan 04 |  Wales

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