Welsh TV

The brilliance of Caerdydd

Caerdydd

You have no idea have long it took me to put this one together. Sigh.

Anyway, a while ago, I decided to give S4C’s Caerdydd a try. Then we got a little bit addicted and now it’s compulsory Sunday night viewing. It’s just brilliant. You really don’t get this kind of thing on mainstream TV anymore, which is sad. I really miss mopey arsed indie rock groups doing end title songs.

We especially like the evil red-haired Natasha (whom we last spotted at Gavin & Stacey‘s wedding, having fun with Fingers) who tries so hard to speak Welsh but can’t so uses an endless stream of borrowed words, resulting in marvellous Welsh along the lines of “…going out for a piss up on the town” (that was in Welsh, by the way. See the problem?). Then she rails against the “Taffia”. Plus Ceri, with her London ways, is always entertaining – how does she afford that flat next to the Royal Festival Hall?

Anyway, here’s how last night’s episode ended – you can catch the repeat on Thursday if you want, although the Eisteddfod keeps messing the timing up so it might not be at 9pm as usual. Caerdydd‘s worth watching if you’ve seen Torchwood for example, simply to get a baseline on what standard Welsh acting is – so much less repressed than English acting, if we feel like indulging in stereotypes for a moment.

Don’t worry, I’ve embedded both English and Welsh subtitles in it (which is why it took so bloody long).

Incidentally, if you recognise ‘Ceri’ (Siwan Morris), that’s probably because you saw Russell T Davies’s Mine All Mine – she played eldest daughter Maria Vivaldi. If you missed that particular delight, tune in next Thursday when it’ll be “Today’s Joanna Page”.

PS S4C is 134 on your Sky box, if you have one

PPS Keep your ears open for the Welsh word for knife (although it’s been ‘soft mutated’) if you want to know why it’s such a hard language to pronounce for lazy English people like me.

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Welsh TV

Review: Caerdydd

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!

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The BFI’s Celebrating Channel 4 season: the highlights

There’s quite a few things to look forward to next month at the BFI, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Channel 4. It’s also celebrating the 25th anniversary of S4C but that’s apparently only produced one good episode of one programme ever. ‘British’ Film Institute my arse.

Anyway, here are things that you might want to buy tickets for, although you’ll have to join the queue or see if 4oD has them:

  • Monday 5th November: The cast and crew of Peep Show showing clips from the unseen pilot, among other things
  • Saturday 10th November: All of Spaced, followed by Pegg, Hynes, Wright and co discussing the series
  • Sunday 11th November: All of A Very British Coup and Ultraviolet
  • Monday 12th November: Episodes of Brass Eye, Jam and Jaaaaam

Plus there are six Film on Four productions, including My Beautiful Laundrette. Get thee to a membership application form, if you’ve not already joined.

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The lowdown on S4C

Nice little article on the future of S4C, everyone’s favourite Welsh-language channel, over at the Western Mail. Interesting to note that the reporter seems shocked that “the number of staff earning more than £60,000 per year rose from 7 to 12 in the past year, with more than 50 earning more than £40,000”. That’s 12 people at an entire channel earning over £60,000. It’s a miracle. How do they keep it so low?