Welsh TV

Mini-review: 35 Diwrnod 1×1 (S4C)

35 Diwrnod

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

BAFTA events

Preview: Y Gwyll (Hinterland) (UK: S4C/BBC Wales/BBC Four)

Hinterland/Y Gwyll

In the UK (in Welsh): S4C. Starts 29 October.
In the UK (English/Welsh): BBC Wales in early 2014. Then BBC4

TV is getting more and more international. Not only are different countries remaking other countries’ shows, more and more are willing to show the originals, even if they were shot in a different language.

Here in the UK, we have BBC4 and its foreign TV slot of Wallander, Spiral, The Killing, The Bridge, Inspector Montalbano et al; meanwhile, Sky Arts has given us Prisoners of War, Isabel, In Treatment, Grand Hotel, Maison Close, Hard and their like, while Channel 4 has made its first foray into French in years with Canal+’s The Returned.

But it’s easy to forget (well, if you live in England it is) that English isn’t the only native language still spoken in the UK. Although the likes of Manx and Cornish are confined to relatively few speakers, both Scots Gaelic and Welsh not only have thousands of speakers who regard them as their first languages, there are entire TV channels dedicated to programming in these languages: BBC Alba and S4C respectively.

While BBC Alba is a relatively new phenomenon, the output of which is largely confined to dubbed English-language programming, sport and factual programmes, S4C is over 30 years old and has produced everything from soap operas (Pobol Y Cwm) to comedy (Dim Byd) and drama (Caerdydd).

And yet, despite this new keenness for multi-lingual, global programming, you’d be hard-pressed to find any of this home-grown, Welsh language programming on the BBC or Sky Arts, not even in the foreign language slots.

Until now.

Because for the first time since A Mind To Kill 20 years ago, S4C has made a cop show. Not only that, it’s made it simultaneously in both English and Welsh. Airing first on S4C this month and then in the rest of Britain next year on BBC Wales and BBC4, Hinterland/Y Gwyll* follows the investigations of DCI Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington from Lark Rise to Candleford), who’s newly arrived in Aberystwyth from London. Partnered with DI Mared Rhys (Mali Harris from Caerdydd), Mathias has to investigate four dark and disturbing, 120m cases against the backdrop of the Welsh landscape in a way that should appeal to the rest of the world. In fact, Denmark’s already bought it.

Here’s the trailer. A preview with minor spoilers of the first episode after the jump, together with some more information from a Q&A that I attended at BAFTA last week.

Continue reading “Preview: Y Gwyll (Hinterland) (UK: S4C/BBC Wales/BBC Four)”

What have you been watching this week (w/e July 9)

Fourth of July weekend seems to have knackered most of America’s normal TV output – even stuff that airs during the week since loads of people have gone on vacation so ratings tend to be low anyway – so not much to watch. However…

  • Britain’s Next Top Model: Can you really believe that Elle Macpherson is 47? No, me neither.
  • Caerdydd: I’ve been patiently saving all of the last series of Caerdydd on my Sky+ box to watch in one go. So what happens this week? I cue them up and discover that the vast majority are nothing but a blue screen and those that aren’t didn’t get the English subtitles saved with them – and were all from the previous series anyway. S4C is too backward to release them on DVD so all I’ll say is DAMN YOU RUPERT MURDOCH!
  • The IT Crowd: The Countdown episode. Cracking.
  • Memphis Beat: Watched the second half of episode two and practically fell asleep. At least Jason Lee has something approaching a love interest now, but more or less every line of dialogue is designed to say “You’re in the south now. They’re a different breed here. They just like to talk slow and drink lemonade”. Not sure I’m caffeinated enough to watch episode three yet.
  • Persons Unknown: Bit of a treading water episode in terms of revealing things, although it’s good to know that the guys in charge of The Village are perfectly happy to kill people if necessary. The weird seems to have been dialled down a bit, though, which is a slight retrograde step since that was one of the best bits about it.
  • Rev: Less comedic than the first episode, but good to see them tackling quite a difficult subject – the differences in style between old school CoE and evangelicals. Nice to see the Archdeacon doing something Christian for once, too, but I found the handling of Colin’s (? the mental one anyway) sexual harassment just a little bit suspect, with the Rev’s attitude towards whether something bad had happened to the girl seemingly coloured by whether she was really “an innocent” or not. Might have been good to have got Colin to apologise to her at least.
  • Royal Pains: Part two of the Cuba storyline was fun enough, and still managed to be relatively even-handed about Cuba, which was nice. The Anastasia Griffith storyline was interesting, too, and I find myself siding with her rather than Divia for some reason.
  • Southland: Watched the first episode and was very impressed. Dark, realistic, gritty. The first post-Wire police drama that can withstand the comparisons. You should watch it too – More4, Thursdays, 10pm. Still on 4oD.

But what have you been watching?

As always, no spoilers unless you’re going to use the <spoiler> </spoiler> tags, please. If you’ve reviewed something on your blog, you can put a link to it here rather than repeat yourself (although too many links and you might get killed by the spam filter).

Welsh TV

I hate you Sky+ – Caerdydd’s back and you didn’t tell me!

Caerdydd - Series Four

A while ago, I mentioned the virtues of Sky+. ‘Series link’ was one of those virtues – press the magic green button when you have an item selected in the TV planner and it’ll record the entire series for you.

Except, apparently, if it’s a new series. I’ve been scouring the listings for a while now but completely failed to notice that series four of Caerdydd has been running for five weeks now! Five weeks! And Sky+, despite that series link having been set up for series three, has been ignoring series four completely. Damn you Sky+!

Anyway, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, we can catch up through the S4C web site, although there’s only four days left to watch the first episode before it disappears. I heartily encourage you all to watch it right now if you’re not because it’s ace. You can get Welsh or English subtitles online, so don’t you be a-worrying you won’t understand what’s going on.

Incidentally, I have Dylan over at shitclic.blogspot.com to thank for this information – go visit him, too, because he’s a very kind and useful person!

Hey Rob. Love the site – I log on regularly to get my daily fix for TV news and reviews. I noticed you were an avid fan of the popular Welsh soap-drama “Caerdydd” on S4C last year… and surprised you haven’t mentioned the third series currently shown on Sundays at 9pm (repeated with onscreen subtitles for our English friends 😉 on Thursdays at 10.30pm. Check out the great new mini-website www.s4c-caerdydd.co.uk… oh, and my tv blog in the lingo of heaven as noted!

Cheers/Hwyl fawr!


See? Kind and useful.

Just as a quick reminder, here’s how series three ended. And for all you Torchwood lovers, here’s Ianto Jones (aka Gareth David-Lloyd) when he appeared on the show opposite Siwan Morris.

Welsh TV

Review: A Mind to Kill – series one

A Mind To Kill

You wouldn’t know it from the BFI’s celebration of 25 years of Channel 4 and S4C, but S4C does in fact produce television programmes, some of them quite good. Have a look at Caerdydd. Go on. It’s good.

But it would be a mistake to think this is a recent development. A case in point is A Mind to Kill, Wales’ answer to Taggart. Starring Welsh man-god Philip Madoc as widower Detective Inspector Noel Bain, A Mind to Kill was a dark and gritty 1991 TV movie about neo-Nazis set and filmed in South Wales.

Shot in both English and Welsh – as (Noson) yr Heliwr (which, I think means either The Night Hunter or Hunter in the Night. Anyone?) – the film, the charismatic Bain and the series format proved popular enough that a series of sequel films was made, running for five series from 1994 to 2004 – even making the transition to the rest of the UK by airing on Five. Yet almost nobody remembers it.

Praise be, then, the first series is being released on DVD by Network on March 16th.

Continue reading “Review: A Mind to Kill – series one”