It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Welsh language telly is rubbish. Take the Eisteddfod for example. I've seen several attempts by Welsh youth TV to dress the Eisteddfod up as a sort of Glastonbury-esque festival of coolness, but it remains what it always was. Old men in dresses taking themselves far too seriously while young people with horrible fixed rictus grins spout poetry that they don't understand.
As for the rest of Welsh language telly, don't get me started. Aging 'comedians' doing stand up routines about bus passes for their ancient audiences! Crappy rip offs of crappy English programmes that are even crappier than the crappy programmes they're ripping off! Pobl Y piggin' Cwm! The thing that bugs me most about Welsh language telly though is their inexplicable obsession with Teddy Boys.
When I was a lad I was occasionally forced by my teachers to watch Welsh kids programmes as homework. Watching Welsh dubbed episodes of the Smurfs and Voltron wasn't so bad, but what I really objected to was being forced to watch the antics of our very own Timmy Mallet, Jiw! Jiw! Jeifin Jenkins. Jenkins was a teddy boy who got up to all sorts of 'hilarious' hi-jinks. He was often accompanied by a fat teddy boy played by Fatty Lewis out of Twin Town. As a young boy growing up in Wales in the eighties, why the flip was I expected to appreciate and identify with this ridiculous stereotype from a bygone era. You can just imagine the S4C meeting.....
"Hey its 1987, what are the kids into these days?"
"Well, kids liked rock and roll when I was young, I can't imagine times have changed that much. Anyway I've got this killer bus pass routine to run past you."
The sad thing is that teddy boys still dominate S4C's line-up. Brian Hibbard is still in bloody everything, steadfastly refusing to change his 1950's haircut no matter what the role requires and Bryn Fon is still boring everyone to death with his bland, generic 'roc a rol' music. I'm pretty sure there's even a teddy boy sheep in Meeees for God's sake! WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE TEDDY BOYS!!!!?????
S4C has recently gone absolutely beyond parody. It's as if the whole line up of programming is one big sketch from some idiotic BBC4 comedy. I present to you Exhibit A. Fferm Ffactor. That's right, you read that correctly. Fferm Ffactor. That's X-Factor for farmers. There's nothing I can add to that. A lazy rip-off of an English language format with farmers added in to the mix. That sums up S4C for you. It's as if the controllers of S4C were deliberately trying to make the channel as piss-poor as possible in some Mel Brooks-ian scam to sabotage the channel and abscond with the money. However I suspect the truth is that their hands are tied. If they put on anything that has the slightest whiff of originality or quality then they risk alienating their core audience of farmers and primary school teachers. And, of course Teddy Boys.
Looking back on this post, the tone is disrespectful and flippant, so I'm sorry about that. My views have softened somewhat in the past few years, especially now that I'm living away from Wales and miss it terribly.
I still stand by some of my views regarding the quality of Welsh language telly, particularly the S4C I grew up with in the '80s & 90s, which I think was very poor. I also think the Eisteddfod could do a bit more to extend to other Welsh people that feeling of excitement and community that I'm told regular visitors experience.
But I should have made clear that I am in no way against the idea of Welsh language TV or the Eisteddfod.