‘Castle Builders’ Conquers The World

17th December 2015

Green Bay Media’s ‘Castle Builders’ has been sold for broadcast across six continents.

Viewers from Montevideo to Montreal, in Sydney, Seattle and Saigon will be able to see just how castles like Caerphilly, Harlech and Caernarfon were constructed.

‘Castle Builders’, which will be broadcast on S4C as ‘Y Castell’ in the New Year, features large-scale drama reconstructions of the vast labour forces involved.

And Green Bay commissioned state-of-the-art computer graphics to show how these huge, impregnable fortresses were built centuries ago, without the aid of modern technology.

The castle builders were enormously resourceful, inventing a new architecture, and straining every sinew to put up structures strong enough to withstand the fiercest assault.

In the face of extreme force, they devised systems of ‘active defence’ which placed would-be attackers under deadly peril at every turn.

It’s a thrilling story – and Wales is central to it.

“This is an idea which began on our own doorstep” said Green Bay’s John Geraint, who produced and directed the series.

“We often take our castles for granted. But they’re world-class monuments – and people all over the world are just fascinated with the skill and hard graft that went into building them.”

Constructing the deal to fund the series was also a labour of love.

“I’m grateful to S4C who backed the idea from the start. Without the channel’s support, ‘Castle Builders’ would never have got off the drawing-board.”

“We also had crucial production finance support from the Welsh Government.”

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “I am delighted that production finance from the Welsh Government completed the funding package which ensured the majority of the spend was in Wales and that Green Bay retains the IP it has created.

The project has provided a significant amount of work for Wales-based freelancers, helps raise the profile of Wales internationally as a location for factual programming while also generating tourism opportunities through highlighting some of our great Welsh castles.”

UKTV’s History channel has bought an English-language version of the series to show across the UK, and Dutch distributors Off The Fence advanced funds against international sales.

Individual territories where broadcasters have now signed up to licence the series include the USA, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Denmark, Greece and Vietnam.

In addition, satellite channels will take the series to homes across most of the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

International series like this can really help attract visitors to Wales, reckons John Geraint.

“As programme-makers, we had fantastic co-operation from Cadw, which looks after these wonderful historical sites.

“A real highlight was the access we had to film inside the ramparts of Caerphilly Castle with a huge drama crew. That really brought the story to life.”

‘Castle Builders’ is the latest in a string of major international series from Green Bay. Previous subjects have included the world’s great rivers, islands, deserts and popular festivals.

“Projects like this bring enormous economic benefits to Wales. And they can help us put our country on the world stage” says John Geraint.

“But, from Green Bay’s perspective, I’m really concerned about the possible effects of further cuts to S4C’s programme budget. Personally, I think it would be a real tragedy if S4C could no longer afford to back quality projects which can make a real global impact.”

The Welsh-language version of the series, Y Castell, presented by Jon Gower, starts on S4C at 8pm on Sunday 3 January 2016. English subtitles are available.

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