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You can't beat the Welsh for drama

Carl Hicks Carl Hicks | 16:14 UK time, Wednesday, 12 March 2008

What do you think is the longest running TV soap opera produced by the BBC?

No, it's not EastEnders, but rather Pobol y Cwm, which has been produced by the BBC in Wales since 1974, although since 1982 it has been transmitted on the Welsh language channel S4C.

But what has this got to do with the final weekend of the Six Nations Championship?

Well, the fact is that over the past five years Welsh rugby has produced a soap opera to match Corry,' Enders or indeed Pobol y Cwm.

Take 2003, for example. Wales lost all five games in the Six Nations, but then under Steve Hansen ran England close in the World Cup quarter-final in Brisbane, scoring three tries to one after earlier totalling 37 points against the All Blacks - and losing.

Two years later - now led by Mike Ruddock - the shaven-legged Gavin Henson kicked them to victory over England and on their way to a totally unexpected Grand Slam, their first for 28 years. Who saw that story line coming?

ahenson.jpg

Within 12 months Ruddock was gone, an alleged victim of player power, and every Welshman's favourite Neighbour Scott Johnson was in charge. Captain Gareth Thomas lost it on the telly and then nearly lost his life after a dramatic seizure in his living room. You really couldn't write it.

Even last year, under Gareth Jenkins, the plot lines kept on coming. Four defeats in the Six Nations included final whistle lunacy in Italy before redemption and a 27-18 over England in the final match. Then in a crazy 80 minutes in the World Cup they lost, won and then lost again to Fiji by 38-34 and failed to make the knockout stages.

Bye bye Gareth. Hello to the Kiwi/English partnership of Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards for this year's championship - and after a first half roasting at Twickenham it's been onwards and upwards to four victories, a Triple Crown and one victory away from another unbelievable Grand Slam.

To celebrate this soap opera, John Inverdale will record his opening for our 'Super Saturday' show on the set of Pobol y Cwm ahead of what is sure to be seven hours of high drama on BBC1.

It will be a drama in three acts. The first in Rome (KO 1.00pm) will see Italy hope to beat Scotland by more than five points to avoid the wooden spoon - Gladiators v Bravehearts.

Then, centre stage at Twickenham will be Danny Cipriani, last week's fall guy now given the job of stepping out in Jonny Wilkinson's shirt and standing out as the stand-in for the new points world record holder. Prince Hamlet indeed. Alas poor Jonny.

Finally, at 5.00pm the spotlight will fall on the Millennium Stadium as Wales seek to hold off Marc Lievremont's latest French ensemble to lift the RBS Six Nations trophy. Will it be a Magnificent Seventh grand slam since the war for Wales, or will the French musketeers cut down their hosts and spoil the party?

Don't forget BBC online and the I Player will give you the chance to watch the highlights or full re-runs of all the drama.

So pull up your chair, draw the curtains and get out the popcorn. With the Welsh centre stage anything could happen.


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