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16 October 2014
the Big Welsh Challenge

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Cerys Mathews

Cerys Matthews

Cerys Matthews gained fame as the lead singer of Catatonia and returned to the spotlight in 2003 with her first solo album Cockahoop. After spending several years in Tennessee, she has now returned to live in Pembrokeshire. She is among the cast of the latest series of ITV's "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!".


5th February 2008

After watching Rhod face his final challenge

Cerys and Rhod before the performance
Cerys helps Rhod prepare for his stand-up

On Monday last week we filmed the last episode of The Big Welsh Challenge. The venue was the Pop Factory in Porth and the challenge was for Rhod to do a warm-up for Jonathan Davies's audience - a stand-up through the medium of Welsh.

Rhod on stage
Rhod takes to the stage

I arrived to find Rhodri a mess of nerves saying that it couldn't be done, he hadn't a clue what he was going to do. But after meeting all over the place this last year (and what a lovely time it's been mentoring Mr Gilbert) not learning very much Welsh but moaning and groaning and ranting and raving about much of anything else besides, I've realised that he is a man of extremes and that his nerves were only to pump himself up for what would turn out to be a grand performance.

Cerys watches Rhod
Cerys watches Rhod's performance from the sidelines

And he didn't disappoint. It was the funniest few minutes I've seen/heard in non Welsh Welsh (watch BWC and you'll see what I mean) and I applauded loudly and found a new respect for my fellow Celt. So bonding over a lukewarm pint of lager and mutual congratulations for a job well done, we bowed our way out of The Big Welsh Challenge.

Explaining the jokes
Rhod tries to explain why his jokes are funny

Video IconSee Rhod explaining his punchlines to Cerys


7th October 2007 After helping Rhod prepare for his third challenge - which involves solving a mystery

Today's my first day back in Wales after packing up and leaving America - possibly for good. So it's fitting I should spend it helping someone learn Welsh. I don't much like playing murder mystery games but we watched a DVD of the former head of Gwent CID and I was interested in learning what he said about interrogation techniques. It's still impossible to teach Rhod or have a conversation because he's talking way too much and he's got a louder voice than me.

Opening the third challenge
Cerys opens Rhod's third challenge

I'm still a bit jet lagged - I've only been back in Wales for 24 hours and now I've got to go to London. In six months I'll know how I feel about being back but today is a superb autumn day and the skies in Cardiff last night were amazing. I ate sausages made by my Italian friend and the evening was close to perfect.

On the radio
Cerys and Rhod speak to Radio Wales

Video Icon Hear Cerys and Rhod telling Radio Wales about the third challenge


19th June 2007

The Big Welsh Challenge is actually being on the same continent at the same time so that we can learn Welsh. And then...Rhod and Graham (camera/director) missed their flight connection so there was no time for bar hopping while speaking in tongues either.

Cerys helps Rhod with the words
Cerys helps Rhod with the words

And straight to work. We sat on my deck here in Nashville and opened the next challenge. Rhod has to call a dance - be the shouting guy while folk in flannel skip and shout 'oy' here and there. Easy. We met a couple of proper line dancers, Barry and Darrianne, who thankfully never made us dance, properly, though I do think Rhod and I are naturally gifted in an anarchic kind of way.

Rhod and Cerys watch their dance on DVD
Rhod and Cerys watch their dance on DVD

Basically it was numbers and direction time. Forward march, one two three, backwards step four five six. Rhodri sacked me a fair few times during the day (I'm way too good for him) and I ordered him off my land at gun point.

Forward march, one two three...

All the time avoiding mites that dig into your groin at this time of year.

Then they left.

Guess I'll see you in clog country.

Cerys

Rhod gets advice from local line dance callers
Rhod gets advice from local line dance callers


Video IconWatch the full BBC Radio Wales interview with Cerys and Rhod




3rd April 2007

I learnt Spanish by watching horrible cartoons with the children when I was a nanny in Barcelona back in the 80's. I've been watching Planed Plant with my own of late, and I figured I'd recommend that Rhod start tuning into the S4C programmes. I haven't mentioned this to him yet. I fear his wrath re. my mentoring techniques.

I also found some 1960s Welsh grammar books and bought a brand new dictionary too. I wasn't impressed by the new one. I'll be taking it back to the book shop to find one with lobster in it. Everybody needs to know what lobster is in Welsh - it's one of the best foods we have growing naturally in our waters.. (and yet every week the Spanish truck comes to take them away - shame, we need to burn our fish fingers).

I return to Nashville this week however, to spend the rest of this spring and summer quietly saying goodbye to my old American life, packing up and shipping out. Wales' pull on me has won the tug of war after five long years. I'm glad it's over. I'll buy an outside heater and a rocking chair and if I miss Nashville I'll get out the banjo and coerce the locals into joining me for a picking party on the patio.

Before then though, there's work to be done for The Big Welsh Challenge. Rhod will be flown over to see if American air will improve his Welsh. There's nothing like a bit of hot air and a lot of margarita to get tongues rolling. Even if it turns out to be the Spanish talk that comes back more easily, as the margaritas are to be found in my favourite Mexican restaurant, Las Cazuelas. The seafood soup is, of course, amazing and there's a big lady who serenades you with the deepest, darkest voice and the biggest dangly jewellery ever to be found. Johnny Jones, Glenys and I are huge fans.

Pob lwc tan hynny,

See you on the other side,

Cerys x


March 2007

CERYS'S FIRST THOUGHTS ON THE BIG WELSH CHALLENGE

On her partner, Rhod:

He's an incredibly intelligent man and I'm wondering whether his Welsh is way too advanced for me to be able to teach him! I guess he's scared about using what Welsh he knows so what we'll try and do is just speak more of the language and we can both learn.

Cerys and Rhod learn some Welsh grammar
Cerys and Rhod learn some Welsh grammar

He's going to be a difficult pupil because he talks way too much and he was probably a nightmare at school to teach because he's so bright - but I think we'll have fun. Hopefully he's going to do really, really well. He's going to be writing poetry in Welsh by the end of 12 months, I reckon.

Cerys and Rhod practise Sosban Fach
Cerys and Rhod practise Sosban Fach

On his first challenge (to perform Sosban Fach in front of an audience):

I love the song, Sosban Fach. I think Rhod's going to have no difficulty at all in leaving the others behind. He's already learnt it pretty much off by heart and he's learning harmonies and how to play his own accompaniment on the guitar. He's going to love being in front of a live audience.

The pair go busking
The pair go busking


Come back soon for updates




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