Hinterland will be shown again on BBC4 from Monday 28 April 2014. See below for information about the series and a spoiler-free review of Episode 1.
There’s been lots of buzz recently about the new Welsh crime drama Y Gwyll / Hinterland, which debuts at 9.30pm, next Tuesday, 29th October on S4C Digital. (In case you’re wondering, S4C stands for Sianel Pedwar Cymru or ‘Channel Four Wales’, and is also available beyond Wales via satellite, cable, and online).
My ears pricked up when I heard about this Fiction Factory/S4C/BBC production, partly because I have the good fortune to live in Wales, and partly because of its strong Scandinavian connections. Pre-broadcast coverage has repeatedly emphasised the influence of crime dramas such as The Killing and Wallander on Y Gwyll, both in terms of its tone – think Scandi melancholy and bleakly beautiful landscapes – and in terms of the decision to film it in Welsh with English subtitles. It’s a gentle reminder that languages other than English are spoken in the UK, and provides a wonderful showcase for Welsh language and Welsh culture, especially that of west Wales, which has a high proportion of Welsh-speakers.
I’m sure the enormous success of the ‘subtitled homicide genre’ in the popular BBC4 Saturday crime slot played a sizable role in convincing telly execs that this fairly costly venture (£4.2 million) would prove worthwhile. The series has also been filmed in English, and will air on BBC Wales and BBC4 next year, but I’ll definitely be watching the Welsh version first, and am hugely looking forward to some quality Cymru Crime.
In a lovely twist, the series has already been sold to the Danish channel DR, which means that we’re exporting some Scandi-style subtitled drama back to Denmark. Expect to see lots of Danish tourists flocking to the seaside town of Aberystwyth soon.
Here’s a bit more about Y Gwyll from the Fiction Factory website:
> From the windswept sand dunes of the coastline to the badlands of the hinterland, Aberystwyth is the perfect setting for this brand new drama series. A place that lives by its own rules: a natural crucible of colliding worlds where history and myth meet the modern and contemporary. Into this world steps DCI TOM MATHIAS (Richard Harrington), a brilliant but troubled man. Having abandoned his life in London, he isolates himself on the outskirts of Aber – a town filled with secrets as dark and destructive as his own.
MATHIAS is partnered with DI MARED RHYS (Mali Harris). Intelligent and complex, she is a mother wiser than her 33 years suggest. Together, enigmatic outsider Mathias and hometown girl Mared form an engaging relationship.
MATHIAS is at the heart of every story. He is a man we instinctively trust, a man who knows that the key to solving the ultimate crime of murder lies not in where you look for truth, but how you look. From the windswept sand dunes of the coastline to the badlands of the hinterland, this is a detective drama with pace, poetry and scale. A series of four two-hour films with stories that are original and local, yet timeless and universal <.
You’ll also find a superbly atmospheric trailer on YouTube) to give you a flavour of what’s to come (in Welsh with English subtitles). The Guardian TV Guide reckons that ‘fans of washed-out noir slaughter are going to love Y Gwyll for its slow, confident pacing, attention to detail, and Harrington’s engrossing performance.’ Mwynhewch! Enjoy!
Stephen Moss at The Guardian about the making of the series and its Scandi influences: ‘Hinterland – the TV noir so good they made it twice’.
Sioned Morgan, Wales Online: ‘S4C’s early-awaited Y Gwyll/Hinterland is a dark drama with a sense of place’.
UPDATE 29 OCTOBER: Review of Y Gwyll Episode 1 (spoiler free).
Well, I really, really enjoyed this first episode of Y Gwyll: congratulations to S4C and its partners on a great start.
They’ve succeeded in creating a high-quality crime drama that draws on the best of brooding Scandi crime, but which also retains a distinctively Welsh feel. While there are definitely echoes of Wallander (the figure of DCI Mathias and the windswept landscapes) and The Killing (Mathias does lots of Lund-like gazing and thinking), we also have the twinkly lights of the Aber seafront, a caravan overlooking the spectacular Welsh coast, and of course, the Welsh language itself. The acting is great, the dialogue sparky, the cinematography stylish – and there are some heart-stoppingly creepy moments added in as well.
As with all subtitled crime drama, the ultimate test of quality is whether the subtitles get in the way, and they definitely didn’t for me (although their thoroughness in recording every sound effect provided some added entertainment – e.g. ‘rustling’, ‘door creaking’, ‘deep breathing’).
I’m already looking forward to episode 2 on Thursday for the resolution to the Jenkins case, and perhaps also the chance to find out more about Mathias’ own ‘hinterland’. He’s a bit of an enigmatic figure at the moment, a Welshman who is something of an outsider to the close-knit Aber community after time away. It’ll be good to see how his working relationship with DI Mared Rhys develops too…
‘Another wild night in Aber?’… Yes, please!
Reblogged this on euro but not trash.
Thanks very much, Andy – super quick off the mark! Really excited about this one…
Mrs. P – Oh, this is so exciting. I’ll confess I know no Welsh, so I’d have to be a ‘sub-title gal.’ But I really hope this makes it to the international community.
I really hope so too, Margot. I don’t speak Welsh either (just a few phrases), but know lots of people who do, and work in a bilingual Welsh-English university, so it will be lovely to see the Welsh language showcased properly.
This is just way too cool. Proves Britain can be just as bleak as Sweden and Denmark! 🙂 I’m hoping we get a series done out in the fens in Norfolk soon … not sure we’ll need subtitles, though!
The Norfolk fens – yes, can see that working well! There must be some crime fiction set there already. Some P.D. James, if I remember correctly?
I think so … something with a windmill or something. But the more the merrier!
Oh thanks for highlighting this – my Welsh is also limited to a few short phrases. Over the past few years my vision of Aberystwyth is coloured by the books by Malcolm Pryce (Last Tango in Aberystwyth etc.) – not bleak just surreal – not sure whether they pulled in any visitors 🙂
I’ve seen the Pryce novels around over the years, but haven’t read them as yet. A friend of mine was telling me a bit more about them today, and they sound good. Very different tone and feel to Y Gwyll – Aber will look rather different through this new lens I suspect…
They are hilarious particularly if you are familiar with Chandler’s books and all those hard-boiled PI novels – Aber is surreally but affectionately portrayed.
Thanks, Sylvia. They sound right up my street – must give them a go soon.
Happened to see the trailer for this the other evening & thought it looked promising so it’s interesting to see your post. I must confess that I’m not too good watching programmes with subtitles – I get distracted by things like Twitter!
I know what you mean, suzigun. Concentration has to be absolute, otherwise you lose the thread after three seconds of looking away! But if it’s really good drama, I find you get absorbed in the action very quickly and more or less forget about the subtitles.
This looks really good. Hope it makes its way across the Atlantic sometime soon. Subtitles
are fine if they’re large enough for those of us middle aged or older.
I had a friend from Wales years ago, and she was adamant about saying “Wales,” and not “Britain,” so I loyally followed her lead.
Splendid, Kathy. The Welsh like a bit of precision on that point. Even worse is when ‘England’ is mistakenly used to mean the whole of the UK. That really gets the hackles up!
That’s a good point about the size of subtitles on the screen. It would be neat to be able to adjust the size in the same way as one can on e-readers.
I am going to whine a wee bit here: it takes far too long for all the good shows to reach us here in US Land.
Is there an average time that shows take to make it over the pond from the UK, I wonder? I suspect that we do better with the traffic from the US to the UK. We may be a little behind, but not by too much.
I have a strong suspicion that all my moaning and groaning is just looking for an excuse to move back to the UK. For television? you ask in complete wonderment. You must be daft, you add.
Well, I know what it’s like to live abroad and miss the things that you love best about home, so no…not daft at all. I lived for a bit in the States and loved my time there: New Jersey and New York, followed by a road trip all around, which was fab. And you’re based in Portland? Have always wanted to visit 🙂
Welcome mat out…door open…coffee on!
Splendid! And if you’re ever in Wales… 🙂
This does sound very interesting, and I applaud the decision to use Welsh with English subtitles. Being in the US, it will probably be awhile before we can check it out, but it will definitely be on my radar. Thanks very much.
You’re welcome, TracyK. I’ll add a little bit of a review to the bottom of the post once I’ve seen a couple of episodes.
Do you know if Y Gwyll will have English subtitles available if you watch it live via the S4C website? I know they will be on the catch-up service but I’d love to watch this when it first goes out. I lived in Aberystwyth for a while and fell in love with the place and so as a fan of The Killing this series is really exciting.
Hello Anders – yes, that’s absolutely my understanding: the programme will be in Welsh with English subtitles when it airs on S4C. I hope you enjoy the series – and enjoy spotting bits of Aber that you used to know!
Hi Anders – I’ve just had some extra clarification from S4C. Subtitles are an option if watching ‘live’ on TV on the Tuesday and Thursday, but not if watching ‘live’ online. BUT subtitles will be available on catch-up, and also for the omnibus repeat on Sunday – for the latter both TV and online showings are subtitled. I’m going to add this info to the end of the post with a couple of extra links. Best, Mrs. P.
As well as the Malcolm Pryce “… Aberystwyth” novels, which are comic noir pastiche, there’s Niall Griffiths’ “Sheepshagger” which is a sort of Ceredigion Trainspotting, and possibly slightly closer in tone to Y Gwyll.
The issue you’re having with subtitles is that they serve the dual purpose of subtitling for the deaf, and subtitling for the non-Welsh-speaker. So we got “DOOR CREAKS”, and translations of the lyrics from barely audible background music. But it didn’t jar too much. As a Welsh speaker with a non-Welsh-speaking girlfriend, we had subtitles on and I had to discipline myself to not read them.
Having grown up in the area, I suppose I didn’t quite benefit from the intended bleak atmosphere. Where many would think “Ooh, creepy dunescape”, I was thinking “Hey! It’s Ynyslas where we’d scamper around and make driftwood sculptures”.
I sort of wish they’d made it authentically bilingual. As a guide to the prevalence of Welsh in Aberystwyth — it has two secondary schools – an English one with 1500 pupils and a Welsh one with 500. So you’ll hear a lot of Welsh there, but you’ll also hear a lot of English. In the course of his investigation DCI Mathias might have switched fluently from Welsh to English as required. He would have spoken to the hotel owner in Welsh, having established it was her first language. He would have conducted the press conference in English. It would have been great to see a programme that did that realistically.
Very promising though; I’m definitely looking forward to the next one.
Thanks very much for your comment, ukslim. We guessed about half way through that the subtitles were designed for the hard of hearing as well, and felt that the sound effects and lyrics added a certain je ne sais quoi to the proceedings. I liked the little notes that indicated music especially.
It’s really interesting to get the Aber perspective from you, firstly about the way you saw the landscapes, and secondly about the bilingualism issue. I’m inclined to agree with you on the ‘authentically bilingual’ point: it would be more realistic to hear speakers shift from English to Welsh or back again, as you so often do in Wales (I certainly do at work, though less out and about in Swansea itself).
I’d love to have sat in on the discussions about language when the plans for the series were being made – I’m sure there were all sorts of possible permutations discussed and all kinds of views aired. My worry about having the completely Welsh and completely English versions is that the latter will end up dominating when it gets shown on BBC Wales/4 next year, and that the Welsh version will end up getting somewhat lost. A truly bilingual version might have got around that problem – but I wonder if there were funding constraints relating to S4C language policy that prevented that from happening. It would be very interesting to know! That having been said, I’m enjoying watching/listening to the all-Welsh version enormously now.
Oh – and thank you for the Niall Griffiths recommendation as well. A memorable title.
Aberystwyth seems small but cultured and somewhat cosmopolitan. I wish some of the series would be set in the city itself.
Perhaps the second series will venture further into the city. As you might know, it’s a university town and is home to the National Library of Wales: http://www.llgc.org.uk/. I’m hoping for a bit of Morse-infused academic crime!
It’s a shame that the stream doesn’t work on the s4c site so I have no opportunity of watching it and I have tried various browsers. Sort it out S4C!
Sounds frustrating – hope it’s back up and running now. The first two episodes are also repeated on S4C tonight (Sunday evening) with subtitles, so hopefully that’s another chance to view if you haven’t already.
Interesting. I didn’t realize that many people who live in Wales actually speak Welsh. Is this true of the majority of Wales’ residents? You mentioned that you use both English and Welsh at work, so that means many university students speak and understand Welsh. That’s quite interesting and good, in my opinion.
And now I’m wondering what percentage of Ireland’s residents speak Gaelic, if the language is still used.
If Welsh is still spoken and read, the program should definitely maintain the language.
I’ve only been to Wales once, up near Bangor, and most of the time I could hear nothing but Welsh being spoken in the village. So not only is it still spoken and read, but it’s doing very well. I have no idea of the status of Irish or Scots Gaelic.
According to Welsh government stats, there are 562,000 Welsh speakers in Wales – around 20% of the population. So it’s definitely not a majority, but there are some areas, such as Carmarthon and Ceredigion (where Y Gwyll is set) which traditionally have a higher proportion.
I do hear a fair bit of Welsh at work (though I only know a small amount myself), but that’s partly because I work at a university, and the Welsh department is just down the corridor! Crucially though, a number of our modules are taught in Welsh, which gives students who’ve studied at Welsh-medium schools the chance to continue their education using Welsh.
That is so interesting. I’m glad to see that there is still teaching in Welsh.
Now I have to see the percentage still speaking Gaelic in Ireland, part of my family tree.
Do people in Wales learn Welsh as first language? This sounds similar to the situation of the Swedish language in Finland. A minority of around 300,000 people (around 6%) in Finland speaks Swedish as their native language and not Finnish, they are mainly centered around the regions of Ostrobotnia, Aland Islands and Southern Finland, they have their own TV channels and makes their own movies, tv-series etc and yes also crime tv-series, unfortuently has no Swedish language series from Finland been shown in the UK so far.
Hello Magnus – thanks very much for your comment, and see BoiCymraeg’s excellent response to your question below.
Before travelling to Finland myself a few years ago, I hadn’t realised that there was a thriving Swedish-language community there. I remember being very grateful that there was, as the bilingual signage gave us a fighting chance of understanding where we were going (we didn’t have too much success deciphering the Finnish, but could manage the Swedish more easily). But I didn’t know that there were also Swedish-language TV channels and dramas – fascinating, and it would be really interesting to see these at some point.
Yes there is a thriving Swedish-language community in Finland indeed, and has an official language status equal to that of Finnish. The region of Ostrobothnia in western Finland is about 50% Swedish-speaking and 50% Finnish-speaking, with some towns and communities being almost 100% Swedish speaking.
Finland’s Official Submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Award Oscars this year is Lärjungen (The Disciple), a Swedish language film shot in the Aland islands which is a strictly monolingually Swedish-speaking community that consists of those islands on the south-west coast of Finland, in that region you can’t even get around using Finnish cause under local laws Swedish is the only official language there, and Finnish is just an optional language in their schools.
I think there also is a few communities like that in the British Isles, like for example the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland where the islanders are almost 100% Irish (Gaelic) speaking, in the Gaeltacht of western Ireland.
The UK has also been able to send a few films to the Best Foreign Language Film Award Oscars with Welsh language films which qualifies as foreign language films there. I am very happy that Finland is sending a Swedish language film to the Oscars and I hope it gets nominated, which would be a great international recognition of the minority Swedish-language communities of western Finland.
Thanks again, Magnus – you are a treasure-trove of interesting facts and information!
Magnus: A large proprotion of Welsh speakers speak it at home as their first, native language, yes. Welsh is much more active and vibrant as a community language than Irish, even though Irish nominally has far more speakers. The proportion varies around the country but it’s strongest in the North-west, where there is a reasonably-sized part of the country (centered around Caernarnfon) where practically everyone speaks Welsh. About 20-25% of children in Wales attend Welsh-medium schools where all subjects are taught in Welsh and they are completely immersed in the language; this is a very effective way of safeguarding the language and techniques have been exported from Wales to other minority languages all over the world.
Re: the non-use of English in the program: it is unrealistic, yes – Aberystwyth isn’t anything like as Welsh-speaking an area as it’s portrayed in the program, although the hinterland (see what I did there?!) around it is rather more so. The use of Welsh in press conferences etc. requries a little suspension of disbelief for Aberystwyth (although it can and does happen in Caernarfon!). However, I’m certain this was a strategic decision on the program makers’ part, for several reasons:
1) People do (rightly) complain when programs on S4/C use a lot of English. The channel’s raison-d’etre is to be in Welsh so unless there’s a good reason for something to be in English it should be in Welsh. Producing a program in English too (as is happening with this one) can be a money spinner but it’s important to allow the Welsh-language ‘original’, as in this case, some space to breathe and exist on its own terms first.
2) The program isn’t really about the language at all, any more than Wallander is about Danish. This is a good thing. If the show wanted to establish a sense of the Welsh speakers being a group apart, then it could show others using English as a way to emphasise this – but the program isn’t trying to do that. There can be a tendency for books, films etc. in minority languages to focus on issues of language and identity and while this is fine, it’s also important to show that there’s no reason at all why the Welsh language can’t be used to tell a different kind of story.
3) Mostly we don’t mind too much about language in settings for fiction. It’s a willing suspension of disbelief – when you watch historical dramas like Rome or The Borgias you accept the use of English even though they’d obviously have been speaking Latin or Italian in reality. The fact the program has been filmed in English too only further emphasises this.
Thanks very much for responding to Magnus, BoiCymraeg, and for your excellent comments in relation to the language issue.
I can totally see the validity and logic of your points, but still remain slightly concerned that the English-language version on the BBC next year will drown out the Welsh-language version – that to me remains the biggest gamble of opting to produce two versions, one in each language. I still think it would have been neat to have had one, bilingual version (a bit like The Bridge), where viewers see language switches taking place as a matter of course in an ordinary, everyday setting.
But I’m also HUGELY enjoying the Welsh-language version (*happily ties herself up in argumentative knots*).
I would ideally have seen the program produced only in Welsh – people shouldn’t need to have the program produced in English (they should be happy with subtitles) but I also recognise that there are a lot of people who just won’t watch something in a ‘foreign’ language. Producing an English version is a good way to ensure the program pays its way (filming the same program twice is much cheaper than doing two different programs). There is the danger that the English one will drown out the Welsh one, you are right, which is why they’re absolutely right to have a long wait before releasing the English one – if they were released at the same time that would have made the Welsh version redundant in a lot of people’s eyes. Yes, ideally, we shouldn’t need the English version at all, but it’s a small price to pay for making programming of such quality in Welsh.
Apparently it’s been picked up by a Danish TV channel – I hope they broadcast the Welsh version there and not the English one!
Thanks, BoiCymraeg – yes, I’m glad that there’s that timelag before the English version airs. I was saying in reply to an earlier comment that Y Gwyll seems to have attracted plenty of interest from across the border, which is absolutely great to see.
And yes, Y Gwyll has indeed been sold to a Danish channel, which is brilliant. A virtuous circle, one might say, given that The Killing has clearly inspired certain aspects of Y Gwyll. I really hope that it’s the Welsh version that is shown there too.
The Bridge is very different though. The Bridge is spoken in Swedish and Danish, which are very, very similar languages, similar to the extent that if you speak one you will also understand the other. I live in Sweden only 2 hours from the bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen, I go there pretty often, spending a weekend in Copenhagen is common among southern Swedes since it’s so easy to get there. To go from my town (Sölvesborg) to Copenhagen by train costs 220 kronor, which is about £23 pounds, so it’s very cheap also. When I am in Denmark I always speak Swedish, and they speak Danish to me, and it works that way because of the similarities. It can be compared to a Londoner speaking to someone with a strong Scottish or Irish English accent, in that you have to slow down a bit if you want to be fully understood.
English and Welsh though are very different languages, you could not have one character speaking in English and then being replied to in Welsh, there is no mutual intelligibility between English and Welsh, they would have to communicate with eachothers in 1 language which would most likely be English, just like in the American remake of The Bridge.
Swedish, Danish and Norwegian are mutually intelligble languages, and speakers of them communicates to others in their own language. Especially Norwegian, I saw a Norwegian comedy (O’Horten) on Swedish TV last week, it was shown without subtitles and I did not have any problem at all to understand it. There is even talkshows that has the host speaking in Norwegian, and with guests from all over Scandinavia, speaking in their own languages without a problem.
Finnish though which is geographically close is TOTALLY different. Finnish is not more similar to Swedish than Welsh is to English. The most similar languages to Finnish is Estonian and Hungarian, and some neighboring minority languages of north-western Russia. But there is usually not any big problem for Finnish people to understand Swedish (and Norwegian and Danish) either, cause it’s mandatory for all Finnish people to learn Swedish in school, as a second language. Then there is also the 6% minority of Finland who speaks and learns Swedish as their first language.
The Bridge II is shown on Swedish/Danish/Norwegian/Finnish TV right now, with 3 episodes left, it’s very suspenseful. I hope that Y Gwyll makes it’s way to Sweden which is likely since it will be shown in Denmark. I will probably be able to watch it even if it does not make it’s way to Sweden since relatives has Danish TV (quite common in southern Sweden), and yes, Welsh with Danish subtitles will be fine for me.
Thanks, Magnus – fascinating stuff.
The model of bilingualism I’m thinking of would be different to the one you describe in Sweden and Denmark – namely the one I see in my own life here in Wales. At work, I might walk up to two colleagues having a conversation in Welsh; they would then switch to English because they know that I’m not a fluent Welsh-speaker. If I left the discussion, they would probably switch back to Welsh again. I hear this kind of code-switching all the time (and not just for English people that live in Wales, but for Welsh people who do not speak Welsh). So it would be more a case of showing this kind of language pattern in a bilingual version of Y Gwyll (eg. a Welsh-speaking detective switching to English when interviewing a non-Welsh speaking suspect). In real life, certain things would be much more likely to happen in English as well – such as a press conference.
It’s so very interesting thinking all these angles through with you – thanks very much!
Sounds like The Bridge II is very good – I’m really looking foward to having it back on our screens. We’ve seen a trailer which looks excellent.
Hope very much that Y Gwyll makes it over to your Swedish telly!
I found out a way to watch Y Gwyll on S4C’s website, the only thing I had to do was to buy a British VPN that lasts for a month since it is blocked for viewers outside UK, and the English subtitles works fine, will start following this series online.
It will be great when this reach Scandinavian TV, I doubt that very many here knows that more than 1 language is spoken in the British Isles, of course I know there is many, the largest minorities being Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh, and the officially extinct Cornish and Manx (Isle of Man) that does no longer have any native speakers. There is another Celtic language called Breton, spoken as a native language by a minority in the region of Britanny in northern France.
It would be great if they would have shown some Finnish series on BBC, there is a good one called Vares about the private investigator Jussi Vares, solving a case in every 1 and a half hour long episodes. It is spoken in Finnish which is not related to the other Scandinavian languages, but there is not any significant cultural difference between Finland as a country and the other Scandinavian countries so I think it will very much feel like the other Scandinavian crime series. The 6 feature length episodes was made in 2011 and 2012. Finnish might sound a bit Slavic to British ears, even though it is not Slavic, but as I said, no cultural differences from the other countries in this region, only the language is different.
An example of how fundamentall different Finnish is:
“It was a moist, grey summer day at the end of June.”
Swedish: Det var en fuktig, grå sommardag i slutet av juni.
Danish: Det var en fugtig, grå sommerdag i slutningen af juni.
Norwegian: Det var en fuktig, grå sommerdag i slutten av juni.
Finnish: Se oli kostea, harmaa kesäpäivänä kesäkuun lopulla.
Arrow Entertainment has by the way recently released the Swedish crime series Anno 1790 on DVD in the UK. It plays like a normal crime series, but takes place in the end of the 18th century Sweden which makes it a very different setting, and it tries to be as historically accurate as possible. It is released under the Nordic Noir label
Also don’t forget Van Veeteren, Swedish crime drama series taking place in the fictional city of Maardam in a fictional unnamed North European country where people has English and Dutch names but speaks Swedish. Also available in the UK under the Nordic Noir label.
Hi Magnus – I’m delighted to hear that you’ve found a way to access S4C from where you are, and can watch the series ‘with us’. Look forward very much to hearing your views on it.
Thanks too for the information about the Finnish crime series Vares (sounds great), Anno 1970 (love the premise) and van Veeteran (which I have on DVD, and will hopefully view later this afternoon in the company of a cup of coffee and a Danish pastry).
I also loved your example sentence and the various translations. Finnish is simply wild… I met a British linguist on a plane coming back from Helsinki once, who went over every year to a special Finnish language conference to hone his skills. He’d spent around 30 years trying to master the language, and still had something of a desperate look in his eye, as if to say ‘I know I’m not quite there yet and I’m not sure I ever will be’.
The program isn’t really about the language at all, any more than Wallander is about Danish.
Which is to say, not at all, since Wallander is Swedish. 🙂
But I love your comment. Really interesting to hear about the preservation of and attitudes surrounding the language. The British Isles have such wonderful diversity in such a small space, really.
Yes, absolutely, and what a fascinating discussion!
OK, I’ll have to admit my near complete ignorance of the Scandinavian noir Y Gwyll is based on… Thanks for your comment all the same!
I remember mentioning Petrograd, a novel in Welsh by William Owen Roberts, to a friend of mine. The novel is set during the Russian Revolution and has a Russian cast; Wales doesn’t feature in the novel at all. My response was why on earth would one write such a book in Welsh?, to which I responded, “Why not? Makes as much sense as writing about ancient Rome in English,”, a point which they had to concede.
Quite! It happens all the time.
I am a Welsh learner living in Grangetown, Cardiff. This is the most culturally diverse community in Wales, where 92% of children in the nearest Primary school (English medium) have English as a 2nd language-Welsh not being the first! However, our 3 small children go to a Welsh medium primary, went to a Welsh medium nursery and play rugby & football locally through the medium of Welsh. My wife is also a first language speaker. 20% of children in Cardiff now go to Welsh medium schools, an encouraging pattern that is being largely mirrored across the Southern urban belt. However, It is a very challenging time for the language, where the core areas where it is still predominately spoken are being hit hard by the economic crisis and the ability of people from SE England to buy up local properties, reducing the local stock for young people and turning some villages into seasonal ghost towns.
The success of S4C and Welsh language media has a crucial role to play in sustaining a living Welsh. This is why I’m so delighted that Y Gwyll is a success. Wales has a phenomenal output of world class media talent, from actors to all levels of technicians, so having Welsh language drama accepted for its quality (with subtitles) and not enforcing dubbing or English only versions, is a big step forward for Welsh.
Thanks Ian, for your very interesting and informative comment. How are you finding watching Y Gwyll in Welsh as a language learner? I imagine it’s a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the language, and to enjoy a top notch crime drama in the process.
There was an article in the Western Mail recently that was celebrating the success of Y Gwyll beyond Welsh borders as well – apparently there is a sizeable chunk of English / non-Welsh speaking viewers, which is good to hear.
Mrs P. It is actually ok. I follow the subtitles, but then recognise a phrase of whole conversation so find myself swapping between the two. My wife speaks Cardi Welsh, so I suppose that helps with the dialect. These serials usually pick up an audience by word of mouth or blogs like yours, so I hope that by the final story, there is a sizeable audience from outside Wales. By the way, I have been tipped off to hold onto your bloomers for the final 2 – parter – you have been warned!
Thanks for the warning… I will be sure to secure my bloomers very firmly for the finale.
Judging by the traffic on this blog to the Y Gwyll post, there is plenty of interest in the series – a small, but good sign 🙂
What a fascinating discussion, from which I have learned quite a bit. I think the programs should be produced with actors speaking Welsh.
My only plaintive appeal is that sometime they should be available over here in the States. English subtitles would be fine with me. I greatly respect programs being made in the languages of the countries in which they’re filmed or in which the story is located.
It would be fantastic if the Welsh-language version made it over to the States. Lots of Welsh-Americans out there who I’m sure would enjoy seeing it as well.
Kathy d. There are also several dialects in Wales, in English and Welsh. The Welsh language has many different dialects and even words and phrases from the north, to the west and south. You will hear many of them on the S4C Welsh language soap opera Pobl y Cwm; the longest running BBC produced soap (made for S4C by the BBC).
I have just watched Thursday 14 November episode, I have the subtitles on there is a man’s voice speaking as a sort of narrator- is there any way to switch him off as the subtitles don’t translate his comments. I have not had this on the other episodes.
Hi Shirley – I don’t know for sure, but it sounds like the narration for visually impaired viewers might inadvertently be on. The best thing would be to go to the S4C website for advice. I think there is also a helpline. Hope you get it sorted out soon!
The RNIB’s website might help. The service is called ‘audio described’ or ‘audio description’.
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You’re at Swansea University!?! I was there in 2003-2204– I took a “Welsh Writing in English” course and I loved it. I also took a Beginner’s Welsh course in the Welsh Dept.
In fact, I’m trying to improve my Welsh, and have started relearning as much as I can. A friend recommended ‘Y Gwyll”– I cannot view it here (on my internet), but I downloaded the extended preview via Youtube and am very intrigued (so I did an internet search, which is how I found your blog post).
I suspect that it will eventually air over here in the US. However, I fear that it will be the English-language version, not the Welsh version with English subtitles.
Hello Mary! Yes, I’m at Swansea Uni – in the same building as the Welsh and English Departments in fact! I’m glad you enjoyed your courses, and that you’re keeping your Welsh up. Your teachers would be delighted.
I fear you may be right about the version that makes it across the pond. My hope is that both versions are included on the DVD, so that the Welsh one can at least be accessed by viewers overseas should they wish (are there DVDs that function on both systems already I wonder?).
Just for info – Hinterland will start on BBC One Wales on Saturday, January 4 at 9.30pm. Here’s the press release and some cast/crew interview footage:
Melfyn – BBC Cymru Wales
Many thanks for letting me know, Melfyn – will spread the word.
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Hinterland is fab, but wish they’d make a TV series of Dave Lewis’ Ctrl-Alt-Delete – that is a great South Wales valley’s crime thriller. Loads of black comedy too.
Thanks for the recommendation, Sue. Sounds intriguing. And another one to add to the expanding Cymru Crime collection.
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