June 9, 2010
BBC Wales recently issued a commissioning call for proposals for a new television series on the history of Wales. Hosted in partnership with the Communications Culture and Media Studies Unit, this evening rountable discussion considered the challenges faced in making with members of the university gathered alonsgide commissioners, independent television producers and historians.
The invited audience heard from television director Colin Thomas, who created the groundbreaking Welsh history series The Dragon Has Two Toungues in the mid-1980s. Thomas discussed the importance of having two presentators – the Marxist historian Gwyn Alf Williams and the avuncular Wynford Vaughan Thomas – arguing over the story of Wales:
“The decision to go for two perspectives wasn’t simply a presentational device; it was also a way of ensuring that the series, whatever its weaknesses on the issue of gender, maintained throughout an awareness of the importance of class and social history,” Thomas explained.
Some of those discussing the challenge in 2010 believed a similar approach to Welsh history is still needed today. One historian summed it up: “Debate must be central – this is contested ground.” Many also argued that the new series should be presented by a professional historian.