New S4C series will recreate the WW2 experiences of evacuees in Wales
A new S4C living history series will recreate the wartime experiences of English evacuees who moved into Welsh-speaking rural communities.
Eight non-Welsh speaking children from UK cities will be staying in a Welsh-speaking area of north Wales to face the same kinds of social and language challenges as evacuees in the 1940s.
Around 110,000 children were evacuated to Wales during the Second World War with most rural villages hosting children from cities such as Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester.
Welsh indie Wildflame Productions has been commissioned to make the multi-format Efaciwis across four different series.
Llinos Griffin-Williams, creative director of Wildflame, said: “None of the cast will speak any Welsh and most have never been to Wales before.
“Transported back in time to 1940s rural north Wales, they will have to face the same social and language challenges that their counterparts faced 80 years ago.
“We will draw on a range of experts and personal testimonies from real evacuees who lived through the experience to unpack the themes of wartime Britain and give a new context to the experiences young people faced at the time.”
Along with the main living history series, there will be a children’s version and two 60 minute documentaries looking at the impact of the evacuees on Wales.
Amanda Rees, S4C’s director of creative content, said: “Efaciwis is an authentic experiment that combines elements of history and language.
“Our viewers will be able to follow the fascinating journey of eight children from English cities as they try to cope with Welsh life in pure Welsh communities.
“This commission will be one of our key upcoming campaigns with a range of specialist formats for children, insightful documentaries and digital supplementary content too.”
In particularly Welsh-speaking areas, English evacuees often became fluent in the Welsh language but it also created tensions and accusations that it was weakening the language.
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They had it tough in Liverpool. My grandparents had a boy called Sonny Hale.
While there they had news that his street, in Scotland Rd area, had been “bombed-out”. They decided to tell him straight away (he was at bottom of the garden digging spuds). His reply was “good”. They bred ’em strong in Scotty Rd! I hope he had a decent life.
Sut yn y byd ydy S4C wedi cael plant i wneud hyn, a hwythau’n rhy ifanc i ddeall nag i roi caniatad? Ydyn nhw’n mynd i’w cadw nhw oddi wrth eu rhieni? Yn dweud wrth rai bod eu tai wedi’u bomio? Gallaf ragweld chwarae’n troi’n chwerw.
We had child evacuees in the Garw Valley, one of them died recently and instructed his family they were to scatter his ashes on our mountainside. They duly contacted our Local Heritage Society as to how to arrange this. We were happy to oblige.
I knew a wonderful Welsh speaker for many years before he told me that he was a cockney evacuee. I’d always assumed that he was a native Welsh speaker. Aged 9 he’d been placed with a Welsh, more or less monoglot, family in Gwynfe (a remote Welsh speaking community). I asked how he’d coped, not being able to understand the language – his answer ‘well, there were 4 of them and one of me. I was fluent in a few weeks’. Total immersion – the best way to learn a language. He stayed here for the rest of his life… Read more »
I wonder whether S4C will see fit to screen the 1986 film ‘Gwenoliaid’ made by the BBC and directed by Gwyn Hughes Jones as an accompaniment to this series? The film is about two children from London evacuated to a small Welsh speaking community. I saw the film on BBC 2 not too long after it was released, which must have been around 1987. We really do need to have better access to Welsh films and TV programming. The only film in Cymraeg that can be streamed at a decent quality is Hedd Wyn on the BFI player site, (and… Read more »
My grandparents John & Winnie Harris in Ystradgynlais had two evacuee families in their large house . One stayed only a few months -think spouse was fooling around so wife went back .Mrs Godbold stayed a year or so and my grandma corresponded with Mrs G for years .After grandpa died in 1964 before we sold Manorafon she came to stay for a week and they had a fine time . Mrs G had a baby born in Ystradgynlais