Hinterland shows Wales way for more EU funding

Hinterland, starring Richard Harrington
Image caption Hinterland, starring Richard Harrington, has been bought by more than 12 countries and Netflix

Critically-acclaimed TV detective series Hinterland has been praised for pulling in EU funding.

The Aberystwyth-set drama, which has been sold to more than 12 countries, has been singled out by Welsh assembly members.

The Welsh government estimated filming the series in Ceredigion was worth £4.2m to the economy, as well as raising the profile of Wales abroad.

Producers say EU funding was "crucial" to the series getting off the ground.

The assembly enterprise and business committee said Hinterland was an example of how Wales can benefit from Brussels.

The committee wants a more joined up approach to applying for funding by councils and Welsh government, as happens in Scotland and Ireland, and suggested appointing a 'EU funding champion'.

It said an "overemphasis" in Wales on structural funding meant "significant opportunities" such as those which the drama had taken advantage of had been missed out on.

The committee report looking into EU funding says Wales can learn from the creative industries and universities in how to tap in to the wider range of grants available from a £33bn (42bn euro) pot over the next seven years.

Fiction Factory, which produces Hinterland/Y Gwyll for BBC Wales and S4C, received development funding of €45,000 (£35,800) and later €500,000 (£398,700) under the EU's MEDIA programme towards the actual production of the first series.

This amounted to around 15% of the overall cost.

"The ambition of the series was greater than the money that was available from the local broadcasters, from S4C and BBC Wales," the company told the committee.

"Therefore, it was crucial for the project that we received that European funding, and it will be crucial for future projects."

It got the money because it could prove that around a dozen EU nations would buy the series. A major distributor had picked up the rights to the series and gambled on selling it.

Shot in both Welsh and English, so far, Hinterland has been sold to at least 12 countries including Denmark, 30 territories and to Netflix in the US and Canada.

An application for funding for the second series - also backed by the distributor - has gone in.

Filming will begin in September, with the core cast led by Richard Harrington as detective Tom Mathias.

Series producer Gethin Scourfield said: "There's a lot of competition for this money, which is a finite amount, but we couldn't have done it without it.

"The paperwork is hard, and it doesn't get better for the second series, you have to put the work in. But we had help from Judy Wasdell of MEDIA Antenna Wales [with the application], who knows the ins and outs."

The committee's report also praises Cardiff University for its use of the Erasmus programme, which pays for students to exchange with others in the EU.

Cardiff has now a target of sending 17% of its students abroad at some stage to study, geared to improving employment prospects.

Wales is set to benefit from EU structural and regional development funding worth £2.3bn until 2020.

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