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Bafta Cymru Nomination for Production Designer James North

Design for Performance graduate and Fellow James North has been nominated for a BAFTA Cymru Award for Production Design for Discovery of Witches series one.

James with graduates Hollie Voice, Assistant Location Manager, Zsofia Ekler, Art Director, Alexandra Drescher, Locations Placement, Ros Mather, Art Department Assistant and Al Sadler, Art Department Placement. Not shown in the photo are Julia Bryson-Challis, Art Director and Camilla Bliar, Action Props Buyer.

Based on the best-selling trilogy by Deborah Harkness, the Sky One fantasy drama is produced by the award-winning Cardiff-based production company Bad Wolf

James talks about bringing the sets on series one to life in this article in Entertainment Weekly.

The second series finds Matthew and Diana transported back in time to Elizabethan England. As production designer, it’s James’ job (assisted by a team of RWCMD grads) to create the world inhabited by the characters.

This sneaky publicity shot above shows young academic & witch Teresa Palmer, and boyfriend, charming vampire (Matthew Goode), as they find themselves in 16th century Blackfriars.

Previously James was the Supervising Art Director on the first series of His Dark Materials, starring Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy and Lin-Manuel Miranda among many others.

That fantasy adventure epic is also produced by Bad Wolf in Cardiff, and premieres on BBC One this November.

So why does James employ so many Royal Welsh College graduates in both Design for Performance, and Stage Management and Technical Theatre?

“We don’t just need designers, we need people with a grounding in the overall practise, with great practical experience and technical ability to sit anywhere within a TV art department.

The great thing about RWCMD graduates is that they have such a great work ethic, and a robust all-rounded skills base. This means they can hit the ground running once they join us.

Because the graduates have worked on rep with the College’s Richard Burton Company, they have loads of practical experiences across the board, not just in design but in construction and model making, for example.

Even though this work might be in the theatre, these are all transferable skills for television, as well as the fact that students have placements in television throughout their course.“

James has worked his way through most of the major television series of the last decade, started as an assistant Art Director, and then Associate Designer on Doctor Who, by way of Torchwood, Line of Duty and Da Vinci’s Demons, before moving into Production Design.

Graduate Zsofia Ekler, pictured above middle with Art Dept Assistant Rosalind Mather, did an Architecture and Engineering degree before coming to RWCMD to study an MA in Design for Performance. Through James, she got her first TV job on Da Vinci’s Demons as an assistant draughtperson. Since then she’s worked on various productions in Wales in draughting and set design roles.

Zsofia designed the set for the Elizabethan version of London’s Blackfriars.

Assistant Locations Manager Holly Voice started studying Stage Management at College, but soon realised she wanted to go in a different direction:

“With such a thriving TV industry within Wales, my lecturer encouraged me to focus on that instead.

I did two external TV placements while at College, one with a Welsh based location company that specializes in TV, film and events, and found I loved working in the locations department.

So the rest of my course became focused on pursuing a career in TV. I got a job, just before graduating, with my last placement company.”

Discovery of Witches also features recent acting grads Edward Bluemel and Jacob Ifan in the cast.

Find out more about James at

and you can learn more about the Design for Performance course here:

Bad Wolf supports a scholarship at RWCMD and next term will be sponsoring the College’s Richard Burton Company.

The featured image shows James with graduates Hollie Voice, Assistant Location Manager, Zsofia Ekler, Art Director, Alexandra Drescher, Locations Placement, Ros Mather, Art Department Assistant and Al Sadler, Art Department Placement.

Publicity photo: Bad Wolf Productions

Photos: Glenn Edwards

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