Archivists find footage of S4C’s launch night on a 40 year old VHS tape
Archivists have unearthed a VHS recording of the opening night of S4C in 1982.
While brief clips have been seen on archive shows, this is the first time that extensive coverage of the historic launch has been shared.
The Welsh channel came into existence at 6pm on November 1st with Owen Edwards, the first Director of S4C, providing a bilingual greeting and presenting the first night of programming.
The footage was found among the stores of old VHS tapes kept by the Transdiffusion organisation which has been archiving media since 1964.
One YouTube viewer has provided a synopsis of what’s featured for non-Welsh speakers.
The highlights include: “Robin Jones, announcer-in-chief (ex-BBC), introduces himself from the presentation control room and announces the pilot episode of SuperTed – pretty much the rest of the programme comes from the small continuity studio.
“His colleagues, Sian Thomas and Rowena Griffin talk mainly about the kids’ output in the Clwb S4C strand (their animated mate, Ianto, didn’t last long).
“After a musical interlude in part three, the lengthy sequence of vox pops is about what viewers in Dyfed and Gwynedd – two of the Welsh-speaking heartlands – want to see on the new channel, interspersed by a few clips (Reslo, for instance, was a long-runner).”
Welsh cartoon SuperTed received its first showing on the night but the footage had to be removed because of a YouTube copyright claim.
Other highlights include a dubbed feature on 80’s tennis star Bjorn Bjorg, Max Boyce meeting the Dallas Cowboys and Channel 4 head Jeremy Isaacs attempting a Welsh language message.
When S4C first launched it was in partnership with Channel 4 with 22 hours of Welsh language programming mixed in with English shows. It was only with the advent of digital TV in 1998 that S4C became a fully Welsh language service.
The channel was launched after a hard-fought campaign, including civil disobedience and a threatened hunger strike, to ensure that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative UK government honoured its commitment to a Welsh language TV service.