Pobol y Cwm and PyC

Soaps like Coronation Street, Eastenders and Emmerdale may be familiar to most people around the UK, but Pobol y Cwm has a very special place in Welsh hearts. Pobol y Cwm, or ‘people of the valley’ in English, is the BBC’s longest running soap opera and each week is consistently Welsh broadcaster S4C’s most watched programme.

What makes fans so loyal to the Pobol brand? And with an ageing audience how do you draw in new viewers?

Denise Roach talks to Hannah Thomas, Rhys Carter and Andrew Canham, part of the team of producers and directors who have risen to the challenge of taking the brand beyond its traditional scope and into the digital space. Hannah, Rhys and Andrew, talk about Pobol spin off PyC, the first ever multi-platform project of its kind in the Welsh language.

"We wanted to attract a younger audience to Pobol y Cym, so that we can carry on broadcasting for another forty years." – Hannah Thomas

They talk about the challenges of taking a well loved brand to a new, younger audience. From getting the look and feel right to the differences between filming for the web compared to the linear television production of the main soap. They discuss the partnership between S4C and BBC Wales and the logistics of working on bilingual website and film production.

The panel talk about how they used social media, including character Twitter and Facebook accounts, to engage their audience, carrying on storylines into the social media space. And finally they give their advice for anyone wanting to produce drama for an online audience.

Hannah Thomas is a drama producer at BBC Wales. As well as producing PyC she was the producer responsible for BBC Three’s multi-platform drama Becoming Human. Hannah is the executive producer of It's My Shout, an annual short film festival that helps young people gain experience in the media industry.

Rhys Carter was the director of PyC and was responsible for its style and tone. He has years of experience working in drama programmes such as Dr Who and Pobol y Cwm.

Andrew Canham is head of digital services for S4C and is responsible for the channel's online and digital development. He has worked on multi platform projects for the broadcaster such as the Clic app, S4C homepage and programmes such as PyC.