Going places, meeting people

A trip out with Dewch i Mewn producer Rhydwen Williams

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 18 October 1959

RHYDWEN WILLIAMS is the sort of man who is never stationary for more than two minutes. To hold a conversation with him or longer than that it is necessary to follow him round.

So I did. For a whole day. I followed Rhydwen, producer Granada’s Welsh-language programme Dewch I Mewn and company’s representative in Wales, on one of his whirlwind research trips.

Hs cream saloon car headed out of Manchester towards the hills of North Wales on a fresh journey of discovery. It was the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Rhydwen’s constant seach for talent for his own programme and for the Northern magazine, People And Places.

It was only 8.30 am. But 40-year-old Rhydwen had already had breakfast and done an hour’s writing.

Rhydwen, born a miner’s son in the Rhodda Valley, believes in keeping fit. So he weight-lifts.

“Wherever I happen to be,” he told me. “Even by the roadside, sometimes.”

Rhydwen’s first call on the 233-mile trip was in Mold to see an old friend, Dr Haydn Williams. He is the man who just won his two-year battle to bring National Eisteddfod of 1961 to Rhos, Wrexham, the place they call “the biggest village in Wales.”

After another call in Mold and a hasty lunch in Denbigh he was off again. Into the hills.

Williams talks to a road worker
Rhydwen pauses to talk to roadman Bill Roberts
A girl plays piano
On the spot audition of 16-year-old Ann Roberts

The car hummed along A543, which crosses Hiraethog mountain. It halted by county council roadman Bill Roberts.

Bill, 43 and a bachelor, has been keeping tidy his section of A543 since he came out of the Army in 1946. He told Rhydwen: “I can’t imagine being happy in any other sort of life.” A few miles further on Rhydwen stopped again. This time he talked to 12-year-old Gwenda Williams, who sat astride her pony, Goldie. With her on Goldie’s back were her brother, Eryl, four, and schoolfriend Haf Davies.

Farmer’s daughter Gwenda is likely to find herself in the TV studio playing the harp, sending Christmas good wishes to the children of Wales and talking of her life on the farm at Bylchau.

Later, the car left the main road and edged carefully along a rock-strewn path to the farmhouse home of 16-year-old Ann Roberts. The sound of singing came to our ears as we walked to the porch. Ann was at the piano, singing a traditional Welsh air. Rhydwen was impressed.

We visited several more places and saw several more people.

But even after we returned to Manchester it was not the end of Rhydwen’s day. There was more writing to do. Songs, poems, children’s stories. Rhydwen has written about 400 in three years.

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