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One Wales, Two Versions
Y Gwyll/Hinterland

From Planet 213

Helle Michelsen gives a Scandinavian perspective on ‘Welsh noir’, and explores taboos within our society around the Welsh language that Y Gwyll/ Hinterland exposes.

Y Gwyll/Hinterland, Welsh television’s new thriller, had a huge advance build-up, not least in Aberystwyth where much of the action is set. The town buzzed with talk of the Fiction Factory catering services (excellent apparently) and the behaviour of actors on location (equally excellent, with just enough exceptions to add spice). Owners of seaside flats or period cottages enjoyed their glimpse of the glitzy world of TV production while friends and neighbours shivered at the risk to furniture and paintings, certain, so they said, to disappear into vans driven by enterprising burglars from Birmingham and Manchester. Big cities provide a market you understand. Whether they also provide the kind of culturally inquisitive burglar who watches Welsh noir remains to be seen.

Filmed in a Welsh- and an English-language version, the series finally made it to the small screen in October when Y Gwyll went out on S4C with English subtitles. As this issue of Planet goes to press, Hinterland is showing on BBC1 Wales. It is also scheduled to be shown in Denmark in April by DR, the Danish public broadcaster, producer of The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen. The Welsh series has clearly been a success. I’ll return later to the issues raised by the English-language version which has relegated Y Gwyll to an also-ran. This after all is a thriller, not a political/cultural document – at least not primarily – so first things first.

Did Y Gwyll work..?



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