February 2023 - Ministry Of Happiness
Ministry Of Happiness - This February sees the 100th anniversary of 5WA - the very first BBC radio station to operate from Wales.
Having made archive shows to mark the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio Wales and 60th anniversary of BBC Wales, I've always been aware that the opening years (and especially opening days) of the British Broadcasting Company's Cardiff station are absolutely ridiculous. Even the driest most academic book on broadcasting history in Wales will have 4 or 5 pages in the opening chapter which are absolute dynamite, with stories of drunk station managers, hair-brained charity drives and the overambitious ways the increasingly eccentric bosses tried to fill the schedule.
Not much audio from this period exists (although there's some great documentaries from the 1940s where they remenice about things like Hour Of The Kiddywinks or Egg Week) - which is why I've had a go at turning the whole shambolic affair into a sitcom.
Obviously, in fictionalizing what actually happened, some details have had to be changed, but probably not quite as many as you'd think. The show goes out on BBC Radio Wales in two parts, at 6.30pm on the 6th and 13th February (the 13th being the actual 100th anniversary) and stars Vern Griffiths, Nadia Kamil, Humphrey Ker, Mali-Ann Rees, Steffan Rhodri and Keiron Self.
I'm tempted to dust-off the Twitter account and do a sort of online running-commentary, pointing out exactly what is and isn't true - and if I do so, I'll be sure to link to it here to be enjoyed by those who wish to follow-along on BBC Sounds - But in the meantime, an excellent rattle through what actually happened on day 1 of 5WA is available on Series 4, Episode 1 of Paul Kerensa's excellent British Broadcasting Century podcast.
Cyril Gwynn (1897-1988), also known as The Bard Of Gower, was “a tall, sunburnt, unsmiling farmer”. Gareth Gwynn (1983-Present) is none of these things. Gareth did not spend the First World War in the Merchant Navy, nor has he ever been shipwrecked, but he’s going to read you some of his great-grandfather’s poetry anyway. Gwynn (1983 ed.) has written for The News Quiz, The Now Show and Top Gear. He is the co-writer of Ankle Tag (BBC Radio 4), Tourist Trap (BBC One Wales), The Goodies (Audible) and is the co-presenter of The Xennial Dome podcast. Please Note: Family members are banned.
That last bit about family members probably makes the whole thing seem a little bit more dramatic than it is - but with it being a work in progress, I'm keen to try this in front of people who haven't necessarily heard of Cyril Gwynn or his poems. Then hopefully, once I've got it working, I can allow family members along who can enjoy diligently pointing out all the facts I've got wrong.
Anyway, if you're in Machynlleth, do come along for the very civilized time of midday on Sunday 30th April and watch me try and work out what the 1930s Gower dialect actually sounded like.
That's quite a lot of black and white photos in one update. Some stuff in colour should appear below...
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