Channel 4 executive ‘relieved to be allowed into Wales’ after Welsh language row
A Channel 4 executive has joked that he was “relieved to be allowed into Wales” after campaigners called for his sacking following a news segment asking whether money should be spent on the Welsh language.
In 2017 Cymdeithas yr Iaith asked for the then-editor of Newsnight, Ian Katz, to be sacked after a “factually incorrect” response to complaints about a programme about the Welsh language.
The programme had asked whether the Welsh language was a “help or hindrance to the nation”.
The discussion did not have anybody who could speak the language involved, with contributions from author Julian Ruck and Ruth Dawson, Wales Editor for the independent news and analysis website The Conversation.
Among those to complain about the programme was then North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.
Ian Katz then prompted a further furore by claiming that no one from Cymdeithas yr Iaith had been available to take part, a claim Cymdeithas denied, and that there was a “whiff” of “unwillingness” to tackle questions over promotion of the Welsh language.
Speaking at yesterday’s Wales Screen Summit, however, the now chief content officer at Channel 4 said that he was happy that the argument had now blown over.
“Actually I’m quite relieved to be allowed into Wales because a few years back, in another life, I was pretty much persona non grata around here,” he said.
“I was editing BBC Newsnight at the time and the programme ran an item debating whether the Welsh government was devoting too many resources to promoting the Welsh language rather than improving public services.
“Well you can imagine how that went down.
“I was on holiday at the time but it didn’t stop lots of people demanding my resignation and even, if I remember rightly, calling for a Welsh boycott of the TV licence fee.”
Ian Katz said that he was therefore “particularly pleased” to announce that Channel 4 and S4C were jointly commissioning the first-ever Welsh language opera to be broadcast on British TV.
“Most of you will know I’m sure, the wonderful Welsh language novel by Caradog Pritchard that explores themes of poverty and mental health against the backdrop of rural World War 1 north Wales,” he said.
“Well we’re not just bringing it to the screen but setting it to music by the brilliant Gareth Glyn – making it, I think I can pretty confidently say, the first opera sung in Welsh to be broadcast on British TV.
“And One Moonlit Night is just the latest addition to an extraordinarily diverse and rich slate of programmes made for Channel 4 in Wales.”
Un Nos Ola Leuad (One Moonlit Night) is based on Caradog Prichard’s semi-autobiographical novel which tells of the traumatising event in the author’s childhood when he took his mother to the local asylum from where she was never to return.
Helmed by acclaimed Welsh film director Marc Evans, the opera, which will be subtitled in English, will feature a combination of period drama sets and location work juxtaposed with powerful archive footage from the period during the First World War, landscape shots of North Wales, and the quarry community of Bethesda where the novel is based.
Described as a ground-breaking blend of opera and film, composer Gareth Glyn’s score will be performed by the Welsh National Opera Orchestra.
The cast of the opera is a combination of established Welsh opera stars and new, up-and-coming talent.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.