A glimpse at my career
by Gwenda Griffith
My TV career started in the seventies – yes, last century! I was in front of the camera back then, children’s programmes on the BBC and an afternoon programme for women, Hamdden on HTV. Those were the good days!
I also worked in the tourism sector and our company Crwydro Cymru, offered day trip services to tourists, mainly for the ship full of Americans who docked at Holyhead and Fishguard. Our work was to arrange bus tours – often up to six a day. Arrange the guides who could teach them about Welsh history, arrange the lunches and then the entertainment on the quay before their ship moved on to the next port. I worked on the Argonaut traveling from Southampton to Edinburgh. And it was a treat to visit places such as Mull, Skye and Harris.
In 1982 S4C came into being. The channel was looking for new types of produces who were willing to take risks and to work independently. It was the perfect opportunity for me to combine my experience of running a business with my experience in the TV industry. Two of us came together – me and Hazel Kirkham who now lives in New Zealand. We established our company, Fflic, the only female company at the time. Yes, it was a challenge, but I’m proud to say that it survived until 2005 when it was sold to Boomerang. The core team at Fflic still work for Boom and I’m really proud of them.
If you were to ask me which programmes I most enjoyed working on, they would fit into two categories: design and architecture and Welsh learning for adults. In 1989 I was given an opportunity by S4C to research this area – this is how I was introduced to Elen Rhys from Acen. Now you’re talking was the product that came from that research – 72 programmes! This was followed by Welsh in a week with Nia Parry showing her teaching skills. Many series were produced before venturing into the world of reality TV with cariad@iaith. And this is where my relationship with Nant Gwrtheyrn began. I remember the first series so well, in February 2003, we didn’t even consider having bad weather! I remember Janet Street Porter especially – who could forget her contribution to the series? And I remember having to move everyone from the Nant to a studio at Caernaerfon when the snow arrived.
Many series of cariad@iaith have followed since, located at Fforest, Penybryn and my last as a producer back at Nant Gwrtheyrn in 2014. Some of the celebrities successful learned the language, others had no success at all! But the entertainment value of the series is unquestionable, as well as spreading important messages about the language.
Fflic gave me an opportunity to work on another field of interest of mine, which has filled my life. I must admit that I have always been a bit of an interior design magazine addict. But more than this was my interest in people and the interesting relationship between people and their homes. So, we started with producing Galwch Acw with Mici Plwm, and then 04Wal with Aled Sam. It was a simple enough idea, no gimmicks, just letting Aled Sam into the home to have a chat and to observe in his own unique way. As well as the producer (Rhodri Davies) is ability to tell a story through images – a great craftsman. There was then an opportunity to go a step further and to bring architecture to the small screen, through programmes such as Y Tŷ Cymreig, Y Dref Gymreig and to top it all Cartrefi Cefn Gwlad Cymru, a series of six hour long episodes based on a book by Peter Smith and the Royal Commission. To my great surprise I was appointed an honorary member of the RSAW for introducing architecture to a wide audience.
And here I am, a Trustee at Nant Gwrtheyrn for many years now. My passion for the Welsh learning sector has been rekindled, and I’m also able to help with the planning and design work at the centre. Gwyn fy myd! (I am blessed)