In the UK: Sundays, 9pm, S4C. Available on Clic
S4C’s last attempt at a drama that would appeal to everyone who wasn’t a Welsh speaker was Y Gwyll/Hinterland, a sort of Welsh Wallander. It was actually pretty good and as a result, it got a whole load of people watching the channel who normally wouldn’t have tuned in, spelling record ratings and a recommission for the show.
Gwawr Martha Lloyd, S4C’s drama content commissioner, is a smart enough cookie not to simply drop the ball and leave Y Gwyll as a one-off, so now comes 35 Diwrnod, written by award-winning authors Siwan Jones and Wiliam Owen Roberts. As is probably no surprise to Welsh speakers, a big surprise to everyone else, it focuses on 35 days in the lives of the people living on a South Wales cul-de-sac. But it’s a very particular 35 days – it’s the time between Jan Richards (Lois Jones) moving onto the estate and her murder. In fact, the show starts on day 35 with her death then the rest of the show flashes back to show the events leading up to it. All the viewer has to do is work out whodunnit.
In contrast to Y Gwyll, which was immediately compelling and had a very distinct tone and feel from the first moment, 35 Diwrnod is a bit more of a melange. There’s domestic bliss, domestic hell, family life and everything you’d expect of a South Wales estate, particularly one where you need to have a wide variety of potential suspects for the murder. But then there’s drug raids and references to The Shining. Since it’s South Wales, there’s a lot of loan words from English interspersed in the Welsh dialogue with one Welsh speaker practically speaking English at one point (“…crack cocaine… prison warden… stupid…”), which is either humorous or helpful, depending on your point of view.
It’s a bit of a slow build and the change of tones is disconcerting. But it is engrossing and well shot and there are enough mysteries for any armchair detective to enjoy. Will you work out who the murderer is before the end?
PS Fans of Caerdydd will be gratified to spot Ryland Teifi (Peter) in the cast