Monday 31 October 2022

The Bizarre and Mysterious World of Miri Mawr - An Interview with Dafydd Hywel

G Neil Martin cocks his eye towards Miri Mawr, a Welsh language children's series from the 1970s which has to be seen to be believed - it also helps if you speak Welsh...

To non-Welsh eyes and ears, the name Dafydd Hywel will probably ring few bells. Mention his list of acting credits, on the other hand – 32 episodes of Stella, The Bill, Peak Practice, The Crown, Stanley and The Women, as well as a regular stint on Pobol Y Cwm – and bells might start ringing like testing hour at the Westclox factory.

A regular presence on television, with a distinctive, recognisable face which would place him easily in the world of the ornery, hard-boiled detective sergeant from a four-part murder series, Hywel is currently best-known for playing Glen Brennig in Ruth Jones’s comedy drama, Stella. He has also been the cover star of Radio Times when he featured in the drama, Out of Love

What is less well-known, and what will distract us here at Curious British Telly Towers, is his hinterland in 1970s commercial children’s television, specifically his role in the highly surreal and popular Welsh television series, Miri Mawr, broadcast by HTV Wales between 1972 and 1978, in which he played an enormous talking mole called Caleb for three years of the series’ run. 

Friday 28 October 2022

DVD Review: Come Back Lucy

Network continue their season of spooky releases with Come Back Lucy, an enchanting, yet equally chilling children's drama which was first broadcast on ITV in the spring of 1978. Not seen on British screens since a repeat run in 1980, the only way to view the serial in the intervening years was through a German DVD release which included an English language track. However, thanks to Network, it's now available in the UK and comes bundled with a fascinating documentary on the programme's production.

Sunday 23 October 2022

The Launch of Sky Channel in 1984

Sky has changed the British television viewing experience over the last few decades, but it started off as a single loss-making channel back in 1984.

Turn on your TV and, unless you haven’t paid your electricity bill, you should be confronted by close to 8,000 channels; there also won’t be anything worth watching. That’s not the grumblings of someone unable to accept progress, it’s fact. Sure, some of the best television ever made has emerged in the last 10 years, but the incredible amount of available programming means the quality to trash ratio is unanimously skewed towards shows like What’s in My Shed? hosted by Vernon Kay. Much of the changes to our viewing landscape have come about thanks to the multi-channel approach of Sky Television. Their dominance and ubiquity in our lives, however, wasn’t always the case.

Saturday 22 October 2022

NeTWork 21: The Story of London's Best Pirate TV Station

Ask most people in Britain about pirate radio and the majority will know what you’re talking about; the more culturally savvy will even exclaim “RADIO CAROLINE!” with great delight. But ask the denizens of this glorious isle what they know about pirate television and they’ll probably respond with “You what, mate? You mean like Captain Pugwash?”.

But this lack of insight is not without good reason. Pirate television is a relatively rare phenomena compared to the proliferation of pirate radio stations which have infiltrated our airwaves since the late 1950s. And, in Britain, pirate television has only hoisted its skull and crossbones on a handful of occasions. One of these was the forward thinking, almost political, art stylings of NeTWork 21 which emerged onto our airwaves in 1986.

10 Years of Curious British Telly

Yes, it was 10 years ago today that the very first post on Curious British Telly was launched into the digital stratosphere. 10 whole years of my life dedicated to unearthing curiosities from the dark, dusty corners of our memories and the archives. And today is the day I end it all. Goodbye, it's been fun, but it's time to move on.

Saturday 15 October 2022

DVD Review: Tales of Unease

Over 50 years since the original broadcast of Tales of Unease, ITV's chilling and unsettling anthology series finally emerges from the vaults to terrify us once again.