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Pobol y Cwm (1974-)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Pobol y Cwm (1974-)
BBC/S4C, tx. 16 October 1974 -
5 x 20 min episodes weekly, colour
Created byJohn Hefin
 Gwenlan Parry
Production CompanyBBC

Cast: Llinor ap Gwynedd (Gwyneth Jones); Rhys Bidder (Macs White); Nia Caron (Anita Pierce); Jeremi Cockram (SiƓn White); Sera Cracroft (Eileen Markham); Aled Davies (Rhys Llywelyn); Arwel Davies (Eifion Rowlands); Arwyn Davies (Mark Jones); Donna Edwards (Britt Monk); Bethan Ellis Owen (Ffion Llywelyn); Gwyn Elfyn (Denzil Rees); Marged Esli (Nansi Furlong); Mark Flanagan (Huw "Jinx" Jenkins); Alex Harries (Scott Lewis); Elin Harries (Dani Thomas); Rhys Hartley (Huw White); Justin Jones (Ieuan Griffiths); Mirain Alaw Jones (Lois Evans); Gareth Lewis (Meic Pierce)

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Life among the denizens of the Welsh village of Cwmderi, at the hub of which stands the Deri Arms.

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Pobol y Cwm is the longest-running television soap opera produced by the BBC, and in recent years has celebrated both its 30th anniversary and its 4000th episode. This is a staggering success for a series that was originally intended to run for only ten episodes, and which began at a time when Welsh language programmes were fitfully scheduled and continually under threat. Its popularity was an important factor in the battle to establish a Welsh language channel, and when S4C (Sianel Pedwar Cymru) finally began transmission in 1982, Pobol y Cwm took pride of place in its schedules.

Created by John Hefin and Gwenlyn Parry, the series was premiered by BBC Wales on 16th October 1974 in a twice-weekly evening slot. The first episode introduced the watching public to the eponymous 'people of the valley' who lived and worked in the village of Cwmderi. As befitting such a small location, the series initially featured a small cast of characters, played by a mixture of professional and non-professional actors, and with most of the action based in the Deri Arms, a pub that has remained the focal point of the programme. The series was an immediate hit, and was especially good at portraying strong and memorable characters, such as the domineering Bella Davies and the youthful Sabrina.

Despite its humble origins, Pobol y Cwm, like many other soap operas, has had its fair share of family rows, adultery and death over the years, but has managed to maintain a level of realism that puts it in stark contrast with the English soaps. Even since it was scheduled five times a week in 1988, it has rarely reached for sensationalistic storylines, and instead uses the extra episodes to explore the ramifications of events and their effect on the characters. Death, in particular, is always handled in a sensitive way - a 2005 car crash involving newly-weds Anita Richards and Meic Pierce, which resulted in the loss of their baby, was a case in point. It is this foregrounding of the relationships within the community and the focus on character development that has maintained the popularity of the series over the years. Despite the periodic crises around S4C's long-term viability, it seems likely that the BBC production base of Pobol y Cwm will ensure its future for many years to come.

John Williams

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