The Welsh drama series Keeping Faith/Un Bore Mercher was the very timely subject of an RTS Wales panel discussion at the Celtic Media Festival in Llanelli on the 3rd of May. The series, which stars Eve Myles as a lawyer and mother of three whose husband unexpectedly goes missing, has been making headlines as the most downloaded non-network programme on iPlayer with over 9 million requests, and has developed a cult following across the UK. Made in both English and Welsh, it was a co-commission for S4C and BBC Wales and the focus of the discussion was the ‘back-to-back’ nature of the production.
The panel, chaired by Judith Winnan, comprised four of the key creatives behind the two versions – Amanda Rees, Creative Content Director for S4C, Maggie Russell, Executive Producer for BBC Wales, Gethin Scourfield, Executive Producer for S4C, and Adrian Bate, Executive Producer for the production company Vox Pictures. Explaining how the co-commission came about, Bate said that he first approached S4C, who commissioned scripts. BBC Wales were then invited to co-fund the series and have their own English version. When asked about the criteria for a successful co-commission, Amanda Rees explained that above all, there have to be elements that are both universal and local, while maintaining authenticity.
Back to back productions are nothing new in Wales and Gethin Scourfield, who previously produced two series of the BBC Wales/S4C hit Hinterland/Y Gwyll, said that although filming takes longer, the greater complexity comes in post-production, with multiple edits and different versions being delivered to varying deadlines. In reflecting on the process, Bate said if he could do anything differently, it would be to have more time in the edit.