Old TV drama recalls the passions of youth

Regarding my regrets – I did not have a sudden realisation that I regretted not learning Welsh. I was not even hit by a revelation that I am proud to be Welsh.

Similar to many of my compatriots who are far from home (I have, of course been much farther than Hampshire) I am surrounded by objects which remind me of my heritage – they range from a full-size Red Dragon flag down to a “Cymru” sheep fridge magnet.

What brought it back home was a sense of utter boredom in the choice of TV during lockdown.

I mean to say, you can only read so many books, or listen to so much music, or radio programmes.

Recently, however, my wife and I discovered all the 1970s’ drama series uploaded to YouTube and it was among these (well hidden) we found a six-episode gem from 1975 based on one of my favourite books How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn.

I remember getting it from the library when I was about 14 and certainly understood about the passion, sorrow, joy, musical pleasure and relationships embodied in this tale of the Morgan family living in a South Wales mining village in the latter part of the 19th century.

I remember in particular feeling an affinity with the socialist brother and his trade union work even though at this time I was still working on my political beliefs.

More especially I was struck by the matriarchal power combined with care of Beth Morgan, the mother, and more so the character of Bronwen, Huw’s sister-in-law and object of his juvenile infatuation.

The TV series is not a scene for scene reproduction of the book. Although the blurb for the TV series refers to Huw’s brothers we only see and hear of three. Ifor, Ianto and Owen are obviously major characters on TV but in the book many of the incidents attributed to them were actually the realm of Gwilym or Davey.

Again the book offers two more members of the Morgan family, Huw and the boys have three sisters, not just Angharad.

This does not lessen the impact of the TV programme. After all it is easy enough to write 100 characters into a novel but not as easy to pay 100 actors to appear in a TV drama.

What the TV series did was to take the heart and soul of the story from the book and bring it to life on the screen.

The Morgan family ready for chapel

With Siân Phillips as Beth and Nerys Hughes as Bronwen the two best characters in the book were well portrayed.

More than this, however, the series reminded me of the sense I got from reading the book of the fire and passion that lies within the Welsh people.

The fire and passion that makes them stand up to those who try to “keep them in their place”.

The fire and passion that makes them pour out their souls in song.

The fire and passion that makes them pour out their hearts in love.

Now I have to go through my books to find my old copy of How Green Was My Valley and read it again.

Well you didn’t think I only read it once after borrowing it from the library did you?

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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