Casualty anti-smoking storyline axed due to Welsh anti-smoking laws


A storyline in TV drama Casualty warning about the dangers of smoking had to be binned - because of Wales's anti-smoking laws.

Since last year the hit BBC show has been filmed in Cardiff - which, like the rest of the country, has been enjoying a boom in its creative industries thanks to programmes such as Doctor Who and Gavin And Stacey.

But bosses fear the industry in Wales could be losing as much as £20 million as production companies decide to choose England as a location - because it does not ban the filming of real smoking.

BBC Wales head of productions Clare Hudson called on Assembly Members to amend the current legislation as the current system meant crews had to go to Bristol to film smoking scenes or use "expensive" CGI techniques instead.

She said: "We had one storyline in Casualty warning about the dangers of smoking and how it caused a fire in a hotel.

"But we could not go ahead with it because of the current legislation.

"And scenes in (the revamped) Upstairs, Downstairs were difficult to work around because we had to shoot them outside of Wales.

"Our drama in Wales has been growing very steadily over the past few years. We don't want to see that growth capped on the basis of the current legislation.

"Without the additional burden of this regulation we would become more successful.

"It would be part of a fantastic set of incentives to attract dramas here."

Like the rest of the UK, Wales has a ban on smoking in enclosed public places and in the workplace.

When introduced in 2007, coalition ministers in Wales deliberately included actors lighting up on set in the law - a move the now Labour-controlled Welsh Government wants to reverse.

BBC Wales - which opened its prestigious Roath Lock studios in Cardiff last year - warned it may have to film prestigious dramas over the border in the future.

In an evidence session to AMs in Cardiff Bay today, Ms Hudson argued that filming real smoking scenes were more "authentic" than ones shot using fake cigarettes, and using special effects to recreate smoking can cost as much as £30,000.

She also said that relocating actors, sets, crews and equipment over the border could cost up to £5,000 per day.

Ms Hudson added there were occasions when filming smoking scenes were justified - particularly in historical dramas or espionage programmes.

She told the Assembly's sub-committee on smoke-free premises that the potential loss of a drama production to Wales as a result of the smoking ban could be between £500,000 and £20 million.

"It is difficult to quantify," she added.

BBC Wales has also insisted if the ban was lifted smoking in productions would be "closely controlled" and alternatives would be sought before real cigarettes were used.

And it also said there were no plans to increase the amount of smoking scenes.

But committee member and Labour AM Mark Drakeford questioned the need to amend the ban - saying it would be "morally repugnant" to endanger people's health just because different rules applied in England.

Anti-smoking groups also voiced their opposition to the film and TV industry's call.

Action on Smoking (Ash) campaign manager Felicity Waters said when the current legislation was introduced "the protection of public health had been elevated above all other concerns".

She added: "That still stands today.

"We accept that in the creative industries there will be occasions when they will want to film smoking scenes.

"But there are very effective alternatives."

She disputed Ms Hudson's claims on cost, saying they had been quoted prices of £250 per day by one special effects company.

She said: "Our concern is that if the law is changed, what industry is going to come next and ask for an amendment of its own?"

Her comments were echoed by Dr Jean King, of Cancer Research UK.

She said: "We fought a long fight to get smoking legislation.

"There is very good evidence of protecting all workers' health. Second-hand smoke is carcinogenic.

"We are concerned about the actors and crew who would be exposed to second-hand smoke as well as the actors who would be smoking."

However, BBC boss Ms Hudson said the film and TV industry regularly managed risks - such as having actors ride horses in some scenes.

"I don't believe it is possible to make great drama without there being an element of risk," she said.

"But where risks exist we manage them effectively."


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn