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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Comments

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  • rate this
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    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.

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    Comment number 2.

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

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    Comment number 3.

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

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    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.

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    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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    Comment number 6.

    For all those people querying whether a 'History of England' or 'The Story of England' is to be made I would draw their attention to the R4 series 'This Sceptred Isle' which traces English history from 55BC up to the end of the Twentieth Century and has been on umpteen times and is on R4 Extra at the moment. On TV there is an astonishing array of historical programmes on London, The Thames, The Tudors - though they of course were Welsh - and every element of British life. Sky have a new TV series called The British and that only features England really.

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    Comment number 7.

    Enjoyed last night's Industrial theme, but a bit surprised that Blaenavon was missed out - after all this is where steel was effectively developed from the iron industry and the industrial landscape has now become a World Heritage Site recognising the contribution of Blaenavon's industrial might to the whole World! Looking forward to more Welsh history, which I am ashamed to admit is not as clear to me as it should be.

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    Comment number 8.

    Episode 4. Huw. Richard Price, American War of Independence. "English Crown". At the time it was the British Crown. James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603. Furthermore in 1707, Union between Scotland and England occured.

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    Comment number 9.

    I just wanted to say what a hugely informative and enjoyable series this has been. Congratulations on an excellent programme and Huw Edwards was a superb choice. His natural warmth and authority made each installment must see TV.

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    Comment number 10.

    What is the lovely music used in this series?

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    Comment number 11.

    Just about to post a comment but comment 9 says it all. A wonderful series. Many thanks.

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    Comment number 12.

    Excellent, informative and compulsive viewing! Very well done. Many thanks.

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    Comment number 13.

    Great work. Great to have a programme which is specific to Cymru/Wales as a Nation. Cymru/Wales has contributed so much more to the UK as a whole than it's ever been properly credited or recognised for!

    After reading others comments on historical events or people(s) that have not been covered or had only a brief mention where it should of had more, it's understandable that more could have been within this series, but for me it has clearly shown enough to give others who are not from Cymru/Wales a better understanding of this Great Nation of the Red Dragon. Now, for example, people in other parts of the UK are aware that it was the Welsh that brought about 'better working conditions' for the Welsh and the rest of the UK to benefit .. or that Cymru/Wales was a literate country before the rest of the UK, etc ...

    So Thanks to Huw, the production team, contributors & all others involved in bringing this project together. Gratefully appreciated :)

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    Comment number 14.

    Thought this series was terrific, and enjoyed every minute of it. I love North Wales and spend a lot of weekends there, and the scenery is to die for. Huw Edwards told the story well, it was a history lesson without being bored,
    Well done all of you !!!!!!!!

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    Comment number 15.

    Many Thanks for all your comments. I'm pleased so many of you enjoyed the series.
    Wales is rich in culture and fascinating history. The Story of Wales production team had a mammoth task of telling 30,000 years’ worth of history in 6 hours. So much History, so many Kings and great stories, something had to give. In consultation with our historical advisors, we had to make several difficult calls. We believe we were right to feature figures like the Lord Rhys who are of genuine European as well as national significance, and the relatively less well-known but fascinating story of Garth Celyn.

    Our aim was to tell the big stories and an overall history of Wales. The Music was specially commissioned by Green Bay for the production and composed by the world renowned Welsh Composer Karl Jenkins.

 

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