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BBC marks 100 years of broadcasting in Wales  

13 Feb 2023 4 minute read
The BBC marks one hundred years of broadcasting in Wales. (Photo BBC: Gavin and stacey, left – Doctor Who, right)

At 5pm on 13 February 1923, listeners tuned in to hear the BBC broadcasting from Wales for the first time. John Reith, Controller of the BBC, spoke these words: “Hello, 5WA – the Cardiff station of the British Broadcasting Company calling. This is the general manager of the company talking”.

Following Lord Reith’s introduction there was a live concert by the Cardiff Wireless Orchestra. The star of the show was Mostyn Thomas, the baritone from Blaenau Gwent who sang a medley including the famous traditional folk song, Dafydd y Garreg Wen.

One hundred years later, BBC Director General Tim Davie and the Director of BBC Cymru Wales, Rhuanedd Richards say 2023 will see more content from Wales than ever before.

The centenary coincides with the launch of Owain Wyn Evans’ new BBC Radio 2 show which will broadcast from Cardiff, the first daily weekday programme on Radio 2 to broadcast outside of London.

With six drama commissions in production, this year also promises to be the biggest year of Welsh drama on the BBC to date.

Drama series such as The Pact and Hidden and much much loved Gavin and Stacey have been watched by millions across the UK as well as programmes rooted in Wales such as A Special School, which will air on BBC Two from next week.

Steeltown Murders, is the first series to hit the screen in the spring, from the makers of the hit series Hidden and The Pembrokeshire Murders and starring Philip Glenister, Steffan Rhodri, Keith Allen, Priyanga Burford, Sharon Morgan, Siôn Alun Davies and Scott Arthur.

It centres on the hunt to catch the killer of three young women in the Port Talbot area and the remarkable story of how – in the first case of its kind – the mystery was solved almost 30 years later using pioneering DNA evidence.

Wolf is a major new six-part crime thriller based on Mo Hayder’s acclaimed Jack Caffery novels and produced by award-winning Hartswood Films. Ukweli Roach has been cast in the lead role of DI Jack Caffery.

Lost Boys and Fairies is written by Welsh writer Daf James, and tells the tale of a married gay couple as they adopt their first child.

Doctor Who makes an explosive return to screens to celebrate the 60th Anniversary this year, with Russell T Davies as showrunner and three special episodes due to broadcast in November.

Drama powerhouse

Tim Davie, Director General of the BBC said: “It’s no secret that Wales has long been a drama powerhouse. Doctor Who made the nation its home almost two decades ago, a move hailed by many as a turning-point for Welsh production and the advent of a new chapter in its creative history.

“Today we see another landmark broadcasting moment as Owain Wyn Evans takes to the airwaves on BBC Radio 2 from Central Square. Another example of how the BBC is extending its programme production across the UK.”

Rhuanedd Richards, Director BBC Cymru Wales said: “The BBC was the first media company designed to serve the whole of Wales and its impact on our country – its culture, its languages and its economy – has been profound.

“Originally conceived as a local radio station for Cardiff, the BBC in Wales has evolved into a national, bilingual digital media organisation producing content for Wales and the rest of the UK.

“Our investment in the creative economy has been a catalyst in making Wales a primary location for video production, and we are proud to be creating content in both the Welsh and English languages which provides value for our audiences.”

Owain Wyn Evans image by BBC

Ms Richards added: “It’s fantastic to welcome Owain Wyn Evans to Central Square, the BBC’s broadcast hub in Cardiff, as he presents his first weekday morning show for BBC Radio 2.

“We’re delighted he’s made Central Square his home, broadcasting to audiences across the UK.

“Looking ahead, it’s also going to be a fantastic year of drama. To have so many brilliant stories rooted in Wales is quite an achievement and I know that audiences the length and breadth of Wales and beyond are going to be glued to them as the year unfolds.

“It’s a great way to celebrate the BBC’s centenary in Wales.”

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago

One hundred years of drama and cultural content that has become weaker and weaker, one hundred years of middle-class palour games dressed up as comedic entertainment (Panel Shows, so cheap to make and so, well…cheap), one hundred years of low-key propaganda building towards 1984-levels of reality-denying, mind burning bunkum, one hundred years of Have I Got News For You with its hilarious political banter, its excellent jokes about how hard it is to pronounce place names in Cymru and, of course, Paul Merton pulling a face, one hundred years of racism, homophobia, bigotry and now, with extra transphobia because that’s… Read more »

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