The Story Of Wales: Realising the team's ambition

Tuesday 2 October 2012, 10:30

Llinos Griffin-Williams Llinos Griffin-Williams Production Manager

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The Story Of Wales was over a year in production. And what an ambitious project it was to tell the story of a nation.

'Epic' was the name of the game.

As the production manager, my challenge was to facilitate the team's ambition - co-ordinating aerial shoots over some of Wales' most stunning landscapes, arranging over 140 locations and facilitating the creation of some exhilarating computer-generated reconstructions of Wales' most fascinating sites.

Being Welsh myself I felt a tremendous sense of pride being entrusted with such a responsibility.

Wales has deep stores of rich and emotional stories, stories of courageous heroes and ancient enemies, of entrepreneurs and fascinating facts.

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Creating computer reconstructions of an open-air Roman arena near Newport

Who knew that north east Wales had riches to rival the pharaohs at a time when the pyramids were being built? I certainly didn't.

As a history graduate, learning about my heritage was one of the perks of the job.

History is full of facts and figures, dates and statistics. Here's a few more we created along the way:

5,900 = the number of miles covered filming around Wales
140 = the number of locations featured 
31 = the number of contributors in the series
50 = the number of academics consulted
23 = the number of CGI sequences
30,000 = the number of years we go back to the beginning of The Story Of Wales

The highlight of the project for me was the arranging the aerial shoot across the country.

Filming on one of very few glorious sunny days with Huw and the team down at Rhossili, Gower was quite a thrill.

Even though I spent most of the day hiding behind a bush with a walkie-talkie co-ordinating the helicopter hovering above with our aerial cameraman inside!

Before a bad weather front came in we had a tight window of two days to capture majestic shots of the whole of Wales and complete the grand opening sequence with our presenter Huw Edwards on top of the Paviland Cave where it all started.

Twice the high winds threw the helicopter off course and they overshot Huw. On the third try we got it.

But that wasn't the only time we were up against it. Filming with the BBC's top news presenter during a summer of high profile world news events caused some exciting challenges.

The story of the News Of The World closing down broke at 3pm whilst we were filming the inspiring story of the birth of industrial Wales in Parys Mountain at the very tip of Anglesey.

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Huw Edwards presents from the top of Parys Mountain in Anglesey

By 3.30pm Huw was on his way to Chester and by the time the 10 O'Clock News started the crew were sat in the Bangor hotel watching Huw deliver the programme!

Mr Edwards has an incredible work ethic.

The production involved meeting some inspiring individuals.

Llew, the Soar Chapel caretaker, evoked such a reaction from the crew singing a local hymn during an off-camera discussion that he made it into the main series - and brought me to tears in the cutting room.

The Story Of Wales is just that, the story of Wales made by the people of Wales.

We could not have completed this marathon task without the tremendous support and warm welcome we received at each and every location as well as the expert input of the national institutions, the crew and their extreme dedication and of course the eloquent and engaging delivery by Huw of a truly remarkable story.

I hope you enjoy the fruits of our labour...

Llinos Griffin-Williams is the production manager of The Story Of Wales.

The Story Of Wales begins on BBC Two on Tuesday, 2 October at 7pm. The series was previously shown on BBC One Wales.

For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

More on The Story Of Wales
Free podcast, booklet and further Welsh history on The Open University.
Read what presenter Huw Edwards thought about making the series on the BBC Wales History blog.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Its great....BUT....why having said much about the chronicles from Strata Florida did you make no mention at all about Gerald of Wales' amazing writings - his journey through Wales in 1188 and the description of Wales he wrote? The book describing his journey is a priceless record of a first hand account of Wales in the 12th century, and features The Lord Rhys and many other Princes. You should really have ensured that The Lord Rhys was also accorded his native title of Prince of Deheubarth....that would have been correct and nice too.

    The story of Llywelyn the Great is a much bigger deal that deserved more focus. Also, not to mention Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, the only ever King of (all) Wales, recognised as such by the English too, seems a big missed opportunity, particularly in view of his story's intricate link with the rise of King Harold and the road to Hastings.

    Which brings me to my penultimate point - the story of Wales is too detached from that of Britain. Huw Edwards mentioned Europe a lot, but failed to link Wales to events across Britain. No mention was even made of Cunedda...unless I missed it.

    Having said all that, Huw Edwards is excellent and skips well through a huge span of time covering good ground, recognising that he can't cover it all within the limitations enforced by what the BBC feels the watching public can digest.

    It therefore is more "A Story of Wales", rather than 'The' (full) Story of Wales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    A fascinating series as was the multi series History of Scotland. Are there plans for the The Story Of England?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I am not aware that the BBC has made a programme about the history of England. Is it in the pipeline?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I am thoroughly enjoying this series, being half Welsh myself, but knowing - ashamedly - little of the country's history.
    Huw Edwards makes an excellent host, and the pace is snappy, informative & very edifying, unlike so many documentaries where presenters tend to become the focus of the programme rather than the content.

    Although I realise that not everything can be included in such a large undertaking, I was disappointed that the important Druidic heritage was never mentioned.

    Congratulations though on a super series, Llinos.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    In response to 'Home Rule for England' has he or she not realised that all history programmes /documentaries up to now have always been in reality histories of England.....Norman Davies (a Lancashire born Englishman) book 'The Isles' makes this point very clearly......all of the history told in Britain was always the history as seen from the perspective of the dominant nation England.....the recent series on Wales and Scotland are firsts in that sense.....the first time the stories of these countries has been told on UK wide television


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