John Hefin (1941-2012): An Appreciation

November 20, 2012

Members of the Centre for the Study for Media and Culture in Small Nations were deeply saddened to learn that John Hefin, the former Head of Drama at BBC Wales, died yesterday at the age of 71.

John Hefin at the opening of the 2011 Cyfrwng conference at the University of Glamorgan's ATRiuM campus

John was well-known to members of the Centre through his work as Chair of Cyfrwng, the Welsh media journal and network, and through his long-running career in film, television, drama and education. He played an instrumental role in helping to establish Cyfrwng as a bridge between academia and the media industry, and will be fondly remembered by members of the Centre for presiding over the 2011 Cyfrwng conference at the University of Glamorgan’s ATRiuM campus.

John was one of the giants of Welsh film and television. In 1974, he created Pobl y Cwm, still the BBC’s longest running television soap opera, and went on to make some of Wales’s most significant dramas of the 1970s and 1980s, including Penyberth, Un Nos Ola Leuad, The Life and Times of David Lloyd George and the classic rugby comedy Grand Slam. After serving as Head of Drama at BBC Wales, he became a Teaching Fellow at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University, where he encouraged a new generation of media scholars and filmmakers. He was also Chairman of the Film Commission Wales and the Celtic Media Festival and a Fellow at and Cardiff’s Royal College of Music and Drama.

Earlier this year, John received the Cyfrwng Award at Swansea University for his contribution to both media and academia in Wales, and in October, he was awarded BAFTA Cymru Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television Drama.

Professor Steve Blandford, Director of the Centre of the Study for Media and Culture in Small Nations, said: ‘Everyone who came into contact with John could not fail to be touched by his openness, lack of cynicism and sense of fun. He was a natural collaborator who was always looking for opportunities to open doors for less-experienced colleagues. His work in trying to bridge the divide between the academy and the highly competitive world of film and television should stand as an example to us all. Above all, though, he was a passionate film maker who loved the way that the medium worked and never stopped trying to understand it better. We will all miss John’s influence very much and our thoughts are with Elin and his family.’

Dr Huw D Jones, the Centre’s Research Assistant, said: ‘It was a real privileged to get to know John through his work with Cyfrwng, particularly as a devoted fan of Gland Slam, a film which so brilliantly captures the Welsh sense of humour. His warmth and generosity will be greatly missed.’

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