Last spring, BBC Wales aired a series called The Story of Wales summarising the history of Wales from pre-historic times to the 21st Century. The landmark series, presented by newscaster Huw Edwards was well received in Wales, with around 400,000 viewers, particularly as it was the first of its kind. Welsh people brought up on the history of the “Kings and Queens of England” and who felt deprived of their own history at school welcomed the series with open arms. However, many lamented the fact that it was not shown all over the UK and therefore not accessible to expatriate Welsh people in the rest of the UK or abroad via cable or satellite BBC, not least because Wales’s connections with the outside world was one of the themes of the series. This was rectified this October when the series was broadcast UK-wide.
Despite its popularity, The Story of Wales attracted criticism as well as praise from the public. As can be expected some Welsh people hungry for this kind of series were disappointed that their own areas were not featured as much as they would have liked, others regretted that some important figures or movements such as the 1904 Methodist revival were ignored or glossed over and that the role of women was overlooked. When 30,000 years of history is condensed into 6 hour-long programmes, it is clear that some prioritising is necessary and not everyone agreed with the choices, for example to have two or three programmes focused on industrialisation, while the first episode attempted to cover the period from the Red Lady of Paviland via the Roman Era to Rhodri Mawr (Rhodri the Great) in the 9th Century in one hour.
Although the Welsh language was not the focus, some of the important moments in the language’s history were covered, such as the translation of the Bible into Welsh in 1588, the Act of Union with England in 1536, the treason of the Blue Books in 1847 and the Welsh Not that followed it along with the decline in the proportion of speakers during the Industrial Revolution.
The Story of Wales is the first major television series dedicated to Welsh history since The Dragon Has Two Tongues made by HTV twenty-five years ago. However, those keen for more education on Wales do not need to wait another quarter of a century as Business Language Services can offer Welsh language training with special emphasis on culture. Contact us to discuss your particular needs.