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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 21:12 GMT 22:12 UK
Time Lord handed permanent home
By Nick Dermody
BBC Wales news website

The Tardis set at BBC Wales' Upper Boat studios
The Tardis set dominates the BBC's new studios at Upper Boat
After centuries of travelling through space and time, Doctor Who has put down some roots...in Wales.

The Time Lord has been given a place to park his Tardis full time while his next round of adventures are created.

BBC Wales has opened new studios in south Wales so it can accommodate both the sci-fi show and its spin-off series, Torchwood, due this autumn.

David Tennant, who plays the Doctor, was even on hand with his trusty sonic screwdriver to help with the opening.

The television studio complex is more Pontypridd than Pinewood, situated in Upper Boat, three miles from the town that is better know as the birthplace of Tom Jones.

It is the new and permanent home of the BBC's Doctor Who operation, with 80 production staff and up to 400 people involved at the busiest times of the filming schedule.

Many of the interiors for the previous two series of Doctor Who were filmed in relatively cramped conditions at a warehouse in Newport, with some scenes shot at ITV Wales' studios in Cardiff.

David Tennant and Welsh assembly minister, Andrew Davies
David Tennant jokes with visitor to the Tardis set Andrew Davies AM

The new 86,000 square feet (7,400 sq m) site is more than 10 times larger that BBC Wales' facilities in Cardiff, and includes workshops, video editing suites, six sound stages and a props store that is...out of this world.

It is big enough to allow Doctor Who sets, such as that for the Time Lord's ageing and erratic spaceship, the Tardis, to go up and stay up between production runs.

Welsh Enterprise Minister, Andrew Davies, was given a whistle-stop tour of the complex during the official opening of the site.

David Tennant interrupted his filming as the galactic Time Lord to give the minister a few tips on the sonic screwdriver's features.

Catherine Tate and David Tennant filming in Cardiff
Catherine Tate makes the latest guest appearance on Doctor Who

"It's got a light on the end," he said proudly, pointing out the business end of the piece.

The Tardis famously looks like a 1950s police box from the outside, but is gigantic on the inside.

But apart from a corner of a wardrobe room, Doctor Who fans have seen little else recently of the Tardis interior, which is said to contain a gym, a library and bedrooms and an engine room.

Designer Ed Thomas suggested things might be different in upcoming episodes.

He said: "We have only called on them as we have used them. This is likely to change and we could see more of the ship."

The studio's opening came days after shoppers in Cardiff city centre were treated to the sight of comic actress Catherine Tate filming her guest appearance on the show.

She wore a full white bridal gown in 30C temperatures for filming of the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Runaway Bride.

The filming continued this week, with a 65-ton tank the latest prop to turn the heads of passers-by.

By the time that episode is screened, the new spin-off drama series Torchwood will have aired.

The show, about a Cardiff-based squad of secret agents facing human and alien enemies, also has a permanent set at the Upper Boat studio complex.

But while producers revealed some of the Time Lord's technology to those at Thursday's launch, visitors to the Torchwood sets were sworn to secrecy.

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