Review: Caerdydd

Wales meets This Life

In the UK: Iau/Sul, 9pm, S4C

Around me, right now, I have a few books: Colloquial Welsh; Welsh is Fun; Welsh is Fun-tastic!; and Teach Yourself Welsh. I’ve just installed the Rosetta Stone – Welsh on my Mac, which will go nicely with Talk Now – Welsh!

Guess what I’m doing in spare time, these days.

Yes, I’m learning Welsh. It’s not that easy in London, but I’m trying. Fortunately, Sky does in fact carry Welsh language channel S4C, which should be a help.

Anyway, in light of the controversy surrounding the filming of a sex scene for new S4C “cult drama” Caerdydd in the Welsh Assembly toilets (and because Toby wanted to know if there were any Weevil references in it), I thought I’d tune in and give it a look – and improve my Welsh a little.

Bloody hell.

Clearly, the assembly hadn’t seen a single episode of it before they said “Yes, sure, you can certainly film ‘a conversation’ in our toilets”.

It’s a bit hard to think of a comparable English-language show, other than something like This Life, crossed with EastEnders maybe. But imagine, basically, non-stop shagging, cocaine snorting and pill popping, with just a bit of gay love thrown in for good measure, all to a soundtrack of Adam and the Ants and the Cure, and you’re there basically. Seriously, Torchwood and just about anything else on British TV at the moment (where’s Footballers’ Wives when you need it?) look like CBeebies in comparison.

I’m not sure I’d necessarily rate it that highly and that’s purely because it’s so different: it’s like trying to review Japanese Noh theatre after spending all your life watching episodes of Benidorm. For starters, there’s a fair old load of over-acting, histrionics, and wall-to-wall “issues” which to me, look a little unconvincing.

But for a network that usually looks like it’s been trapped in the 70s (cf Pobol Y Cwm and all those weird farming programmes and broadcasts from town halls), to have a glossy Kudos/World Productions-esque show like this is really quite remarkable. It’s worth tuning in, if you can, just for the shock value alone, but it really does show off Cardiff nicely and if you miss This Life, this is the next best thing for now.

PS What weirded me out most about the episode was the fact there was one scene filmed in the exact same hotel room that we stayed in in Cardiff at the start of the month. Not just a similar one. The exact same room. Spooky.

UPDATE: You can watch episodes from the S4C web site. You’ll need this if you’re on a Mac. Turns out the episode I watched was one of the tamer ones. Just look at the catch-up on this one, for example!