S4C’s evergreen countryside series Cefn Gwlad celebrates its quarter century this year and presenter, Dai Jones, Llanilar and the crew are still bursting with ideas for more programmes.
After 24 years and 450 programmes, the enthusiasm of the team is as strong as ever and the aim remains the same – to bring the most colourful characters in the Welsh countryside to the screen on S4C.
Dai Jones has been the presenter of Cefn Gwlad almost from the beginning and his own farm, Berthlwyd, Llanilar was the location of the first programme he presented in the series. “Our son, John Ifor was aged six at the time but today he’s running the farm with his mother, Olwen,” said Dai.
Dai was already well-known on TV as the presenter of family quiz show Siôn a Siân when producer/director, the late Geraint Rees asked him to take the reins on Cefn Gwlad.
“I had the chance to put my own stamp on the programmes and the intention from the start was to feature rural characters and to hear their stories,” said Dai.
A quarter of a century later, is there a shortage of characters in rural Wales ? Not according to Dai, though the nature of the characters has changed. “The way of life in the countryside has changed, so the types of characters you find today are different. The hard times experienced in agriculture in recent years have moulded strong personalities among young farmers,” he explained.
And what about Dai himself – is he looking forward to making another quarter century of programmes? “I’ll be 64 in the autumn. It’s a good thing my tongue is at the top of my body and while that’s still functioning I’ll keep going,” joked Dai, who is currently filming another series of Cefn Gwlad for next year.
For a person who can’t stand heights, water or cats, presenting Cefn Gwlad hasn’t always been easy. However, as part of his work on the series, Dai has climbed Tryfan in Snowdonia, one of Wales’ highest mountains and he has learned to ski. Cefn Gwlad has also wandered far from home at times to make programmes in countries like Africa and Patagonia.
Among the most memorable characters seen in Cefn Gwlad, two that come immediately to mind for Dai are Don Garreg Ddu from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and Johnny Moch, a pig dealer from Anglesey. “The two were such unusual characters that the programmes had a huge impact,” said Dai. The programme on Don Garreg Ddu won a major award at the Celtic Film and TV Festival.
Dai’s contribution to the world of agriculture was recognised by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society four years ago when they awarded him their most prestigious prize – the Sir Bryner Jones Award.