Historic hat-trick of gongs is major boost for staff-owned TV company
A TV company from North Wales has won a hat-trick of top awards just two years after making broadcast history when it was taken over by the staff.
Caernarfon-based Cwmni Da said the triple success at the Celtic Media Festival will boost the business by helping them secure more lucrative commissions.
In all the company’s programmes were shortlisted for seven honours which was a record for the prestigious event founded 40 years ago.
They came away with gongs for multi-awarding winning children’s show Deian a Loli, documentary series 47 Copa (47 Summits) and Côr Digidol (Digital Choir) presented by popular tenor Rhys Meirion.
The transformation into a “mini John Lewis” happened when the then managing director, Dylan Huws, sold his shares to the newly-formed Employee Owned Trust.
The move was believed to be the first in the UK broadcast industry and was managed by the Wales Co-operative Centre.
Around the same time the company recruited broadcasting big hitter Llion Iwan as director of content, after he had previously worked as the commissioner of factual content and head of content distribution at S4C.
He has taken over as managing director from Dylan Huws who is now chairman of the trustees and an executive producer with Cwmni Da.
Llion said: “Winning three of the top honours at the Celtic Media Festival is a huge achievement for the incredible team here at Cwmni Da.
“The company has always punched well above its weight, but the staff are more committed than ever to the cause after the ownership of the company transferred to them. We have gone to a whole new level.
“They thoroughly deserve the accolades that have come their way because it a reward for their talent and hard work.
“The prestige that comes with being successful in winning awards will also provide us with a boost in the business sense.
“Let’s not forget that Cwmni Da’s programmes were shortlisted for honours in seven categories.
“They represented a hugely diverse range of programmes which also included comedy series Rybish (Rubbish), two documentaries, Y Côr (The Choir) and Eirlys, Dementia a Tim (Eirlys, Dementia and Tim) which was shortlisted in two different categories.
“All of these programmes are very different and illustrates who multi-talented our team is.”
The company employs 53 staff and a host of freelancers and is based at a state-of-the-art production centre in the Goleuad building on Victoria Dock.
Their output includes some of S4C’s most popular programmes, including Fferm Ffactor, Noson Lawen and Ffit Cymru, as well as award-winning international co-productions like Llanw (Tide).
But the trio of awards heralds a new high water mark for the respected company that turns over around £5 million a year, making a significant contribution to the local economy.
Having been aired originally on S4C, the documentary series, 47 Copa, is now available to view on Amazon Prime.
The three-part series scaled new heights by coming out on top in the sport category at the Celtic Media Festival.
It features the successful attempt by endurance athlete Huw Jack Brassington, who hails from Caernarfon and now lives in Cockermouth, Cumbria, to conquer one of the world’s toughest mountain challenges.
Camera crews followed the former GB triathlete in treacherous conditions as he completed the gruelling Paddy Buckley Round, which sees runners covering a distance of some 100km and climbing 8,000 metres which it the equivalent of scaling Everest, taking in no fewer than 47 summits – all in 24 hours.
Côr Digidol (Digital Choir) was a lockdown-inspired show presented by talented tenor Rhys Meirion, who hails from Porthmadog and now lives in Pwllglas near Ruthin.
The programme, which won the entertainment category, showcased a rousing online performance of the famous Welsh hymn Calon Lȃn which went viral on social media with more than 190,000 views.
Also among the winners was the 2020 Christmas special of the hugely popular kids’ series, Deian a Loli (Deian and Loli, which was honoured in the children’s category.
Llion added: “The move to become an Employee Owned Trust has strengthened Cwmni Da’s roots in Caernarfon, providing skilled and well-paid jobs.
Llion said: “What stands out for me is that our programmes have been shortlisted in so many diverse categories which shows how multi-talented our team is.
“The pandemic has presented us, and everybody else, with huge challenges but the ingenuity and flexibility of the team has helped us navigate this difficult period.
“We have a core of highly creative and experienced directors and producers as well as younger people who are being mentored.
“Over the past 18 months we have been able to re-organise our schedules and change how we work.
“As a result, have been able to continue producing programmes through the pandemic and we’ve done as much as we can to support experienced freelancers in our area who have been faithful to the company.
“That’s enabled Cwmni Da to continue to contribute to the local economy and our turnover last year remained stable at around £5 million.
“The Celtic Media Festival has provided us with an excellent shop window, and I am sure this success will be very helpful in securing future commissions to lay the foundations for an even brighter future.”