The RTS Wales Centre is now an annual presence at the National Eisteddfod, and we were there again this year at Blaenau Gwent, where this peripatetic celebration of all things Welsh rejuvenated the old steelworks, if only for a week. RTS was in the S4C Pavilion on the 'maes' for the launch of an important new book, entitled A History of Independent Television in Wales, by historian, academic and Wales Centre member, Dr. Jamie Medhurst.
The book had already excited much comment among broadcast professionals, partly because no authoritative history of independent television in Wales had ever previously been written, and partly because those who were in the vanguard of its development had their own individual memories of the events of the last 50 years. Dr. Medhurst summarised his subject matter under four main headings, and punctuated his lecture with delightfully informative snippets, including the fact that the first-ever Welsh language programme on ITV, Dewch i Mewn (Do Come In), came not from Wales at all, but from Granada in Manchester.
He went on to explore the history of TWW, and described the rather unexpected loss of the franchise to Harlech Television in 1967. HTV boasted a stellar line-up of company directors, including Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Sir Geraint Evans, Wynford Vaughan Thomas, Stanley Baker, Harry Secombe and Lord Harlech, who lent his name to the new company.
The audience included several of those who had witnessed these developments at first hand, including the Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd, who worked at the time for BBC Wales. She remembered how BBC staff had feared for their jobs - those, that is, who didn't leave to hitch their wagons to the new star in the broadcasting firmament. She, and several others in the subsequent Q&A, welcomed the publication of Dr. Medhurst's book by the University of Wales Press, and wished it well. It was, they agreed, long overdue.
(Sec: Wales Centre)