Editorial

Is Wales under-represented in television?

Wales scenery
Wales: We often see the locations, but rarely the stories. Credit: Holly Giles
Locations in Wales are shown in our television programmes, but rarely do we see Welsh-centric storylines in our shows. Is Wales under-represented in television?

By Tirion Davies | Editor-in-Chief

ITV recently showed a three-part short series The Pembrokeshire Murders, based on the real-life story behind the conviction of serial killer John Cooper.

The series, which included a cast led by Luke Evans and Keith Allen, showed the brilliance of Welsh storytelling, and offered ITV its biggest drama launch in five years. It’s even lead to the reopening of further cases previously deemed unsolved.

The Pembrokeshire Murders was the first time in a while a television drama led by an all-Welsh cast had been so successful; for many it felt like the first time they’d heard so many authentic Welsh accents in a crime drama since BBC One Wales released Keeping Faith in 2017.

Yet, there may be a reason for this. Although an abundance of tv shows and films are filmed in Wales, very few are actually set here and include Welsh characters.

We all to see iconic Welsh locations shown on our screens, but very few shows filmed in Wales which may be shown worldwide are, in fact, set here. Although there are many brilliant Welsh programmes on our screens, very few will make it to homes outside of Wales.

There has been some change, at least, in the past few years. In 2008, the BBC launched the “Beyond the M25” initiative, to solidify a more sustainable production base across the nation, in an attempt to “bring production closer to the audiences they serve”.

Dramas like Hinterland, Keeping Faith and The Pembrokeshire Murders and sitcoms like Gavin & Stacey have been testament to the telling of incredible, Welsh-centric stories. When The Pembrokeshire Murders launched on January 11, it saw an immense 6.3 million viewers, with a third of people watching television across all channels tuning in to the first episode.

Keeping Faith saw around 9 million BBC iPlayer downloads after its initial Welsh-language release earlier in 2017 and prompted the BBC to show the programme on all BBC One channels across the UK, as opposed to simply BBC One Wales, as was the case when it first aired.

Programmes such as Belonging and Baker Boys have since been forgotten but were further examples of the representation of Welsh communities from a fervently Welsh lens.

Wales does get some representation on our television screens, but the problem is that it is often kept to one character, or the programmes depicting Welsh life and culture are shown only in Wales.

A lack of representation is an issue for many groups, and so a lack of representation of Welsh life and culture should, of course, not take precedence over more representation for other groups, though it does feel important.

Often, it seems as though we rely on channels like S4C and BBC One Wales alone to provide authentic Welsh representation.

As a country part of the four nations, with so much history and culture, Wales is bursting at the seams with stories to share. It’s time we start seeing more of them.


Wnaeth ITV dangos y rhaglen tair-rhan The Pembrokeshire Murders yn ddiweddar, yn seiliedig ar stori arddeliad y lladdwr John Cooper.

Llwyddodd y rhaglen, gydag actorion Luke Evans a Keith Allen yn chwarae’r prif gymeriadau, i ddangos llwyddiant ddweud straeon Cymreig, ac fe wnaeth cynnig ITV ei lansiad fwyaf am ddrama yn y pum mlynedd diwethaf. Mae’r rhaglen hyd yn oed wedi cynnig yr ail-agorid i o ragor o farwolaethau heb ei ddatrys.

The Pembrokeshire Murders oedd y tro cyntaf mewn cyfnod hir i raglen ddrama wedi’i arwain gan gast Cymraeg i fod yn llwyddiant mawr; i nifer, teimlodd hi fel petai yr oedd hi’r tro cyntaf iddynt glywed acenion Cymraeg ar raglen drama ers i BBC Cymru lansio Keeping Faith yn 2017.

Ond, efallai bod rheswm am hyn. Er bod nifer eang o raglennu teledu a ffilmiau’n cael ei ffilmio yng Nghymru, does dim nifer uchel ohonynt yn cael ei selio yng Nghymru gyda chymeriadau Cymreig. Nid oes llawer ohonynt, chwaith, yn cael ei ddangos yn dai tu fas i Gymru.

Mae rhaglenni megis Y Gwyll/Hinterland, Un Bore Mercher/Keeping Faith a The Pembrokeshire Murders yn destament i straeon Cymreig. Pan lansiodd The Pembrokeshire Murders ar Ionawr 11, gwelodd ITV bod 6.3 miliwn o bobl yn gwylio’r rhaglen, gyda chwarter y bobl yn gwylio teledu’r noson honno’n gwylio’r rhaglen.

Derbyniodd Keeping Faith 9 miliwn o wylwyr ar BBC iPlayer ar ôl iddo ddechrau ar S4C yn gynharach yn 2017 a wnaeth wneud i’r BBC rhoi’r rhaglen ar sianeli BBC Un ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig, yn hytrach nag ond yng Nghymru fel y gwnaeth pan ddechreuodd y rhaglen yn wreiddiol.

Ydy, mae Cymru’n derbyn cynrychiolaeth ambell waith ar deledu, ond y broblem yw’r bod hi’n amlwg yn aros fel un cymeriad, ac nad yw’r rhaglen yn aml yn dangos bywydau Cymreig. Weithiau, nad yw’r actorion yn Gymreig, ac mae’r acenion yn wael ac yn ystrydebol.

Yn aml, mae’n teimlo ein bod ni’n hyderu yn S4C a BBC Cymru i greu rhaglennu Cymreig.

Fel gwlad yn rhan o bedair cenedl y Deyrnas Unedig, gyda hanes a diwylliant cryf, mae gan Gymru cannoedd o straeon i’w rhannu. Mae’n amser i ni ddechrau gweld mwy ohonynt.

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