BBC Cymru-Wales: 100 Years
By Keith Hamer and Garry Smith
There’ll Be A Welcome …
At 5 pm on February 13th, 1923, listeners tuned in to hear the BBC broadcasting from Wales for the first time. John Reith, the BBC’s first General Manager, said: “Hello, 5WA – the Cardiff station of the British Broadcasting Company calling. This is the general manager of the company talking”.
Following his introduction, there was a live concert by the Cardiff Wireless Orchestra. The star of the show was Mostyn Thomas, the baritone from Blaenau Gwent who sang a medley including the famous traditional folk song, Dafydd y Garreg Wen.
One hundred years later, BBC Director-General, Tim Davie, and the Director of BBC Cymru Wales, Rhuanedd Richards, indicated that 2023 will see more content from Wales than ever before.
The Centenary coincides with the launch of a new BBC Radio 2 programme with Owain Wyn Evans which will broadcast from Cardiff. This will be the first daily weekday programme on Radio 2 to broadcast outside of London.
There are currently six Welsh drama commissions in production. These are due to be broadcast during the year and will be a record number of Welsh drama productions from the BBC.
Tim Davie said: “It’s no secret that Wales has long been a drama powerhouse. ‘Doctor Who’ made the nation its home almost two decades ago, a move hailed by many as a turning point for Welsh production and the advent of a new chapter in its creative history.
“Today we see another landmark broadcasting moment as Owain Wyn Evans takes to the airwaves on BBC Radio 2 from Central Square. Another example of how the BBC is extending its programme production across the UK.”
Rhuanedd Richards, Director of BBC Cymru-Wales said: “The BBC was the first media company designed to serve the whole of Wales and its impact on our country – its culture, its languages and its economy – has been profound.
“Originally conceived as a local radio station for Cardiff, the BBC in Wales has evolved into a national, bilingual digital media organisation producing content for Wales and the rest of the UK.
“Our investment in the creative economy has been a catalyst in making Wales a primary location for video production, and we are proud to be creating content in both the Welsh and English languages which provides value for our audiences.”
One strange anomaly of BBC Cymru-Wales programmes noted by the authors in the early Sixties was that at 1.00 pm on weekdays, the news bulletin, Heddiw (Today), was broadcast in the Welsh language, but only from English transmitters such as Sutton Coldfield or Holme Moss!
The image shows Mostyn Thomas performing a traditional folk song during the opening programme on February 13th, 1923.
(Photo: The Keith Hamer+Garry Smith BBC Collection).
Many thanks to Keith Hamer and Garry Smith for providing this article at such short notice!
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