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Celebrity Team

Iolo Williams

Iolo Williams


Iolo studied Ecology in London and worked for 14 years for the RSPB, becoming a regular interviewee in the Welsh media. He now has a full-time career in broadcasting and his TV series include Wild Wales, Wild Winter, Iolo's Special Reserves, and Iolo's Welsh Safari.


21st February

Lowri did her item for Wedi 3 quite comfortably and confidently but I don't think she'd learnt the Welsh - she'd obviously learnt parrot fashion instead.

She's a very able person. If she had a real incentive to learn she'd have grasped Welsh quickly. She lives in London in a really English environment which hasn't helped at all. All the others hear some Welsh conversation around them.

To be honest I don't think Lowri got as far as she wanted and I wonder whether in six months she'll be able to remember any words. I did hope she'd have learnt more Welsh by the end of the year, but what I hope is that it's given her an even better understanding of her roots and that one day she might move to Wales and then I'm sure she'd decide to really make a go of learning Welsh.


20th December 2007

After helping Lowri prepare for her final challenge - presenting a feature for the S4C magazine programme, Wedi 3

I noticed a light come on in Lowri's eyes when I told her about this challenge. It's one she really wants to do. She has to research for the piece for Wedi 3 and include a voiceover, an interview and a piece to camera.

Iolo greets Lowri
Iolo meets Lowri in the offices of the Western Mail with her final challenge

Lowri made the decision to do something on fashion and I helped her get hold of Huw Rees who's a Welsh fashion guru. He narrowed down her options. She wasn't sure whether to speak to fashion outlets or a young Welsh designer. Huw couldn't think of a suitable designer so she's going to focus on fashion stores.

We went through some vocab for items of clothing like trousers, skirt, dress and so on and I explained to her that we don't have the same variety of words for colours in Welsh - for example, "scarlet" and "red" are both "coch".

Lowri writes her script
Iolo helps Lowri to draft a script

Lowri has a very limited Welsh vocabulary but her pronunciation is good so I think she'll do alright if she can write her voiceover phonetically, prepare her interview and rehearse a piece to camera.

She hasn't had much time to prepare for the first two challenges and it's even more difficult because she doesn't live in Wales and she doesn't have Welsh speaking friends. This will probably be the challenge Lowri will find easiest because she's interested in fashion - the only problem is she has to do it in Welsh!


17th September 2007

After helping Lowri to prepare for her third challenge, which involves solving a mystery

I think this next task will be fun for Lowri. She's got confidence, she's got the pronunciation and she's got an aptitude for Welsh. I think she'll need a good vocabulary too and that may well involve a lot more homework.

Going through words
Lowri and Iolo go through some useful phrases

Lowri is doing very well. I'm extremely proud of what she's achieved. What does put her at a disadvantage is the fact that when she leaves these sessions she goes back to London and she hasn't got anyone to work with on her language or a close Welsh speaking friend who can help her.

Playing a game
Lowri plays a game to improve her Welsh

As I travel around Wales it's heartening to see how many learners meet and greet me in Welsh. I met a girl on a charity walk who lives near Monmouth and she's learnt to speak Welsh through listening to Radio Cymru and watching S4C. If she can learn in an area with very few Welsh speakers then anyone can. I know it's not easy but hopefully those who do it get a real sense of achievement and a whole new group of friends.


15th July 2007

Iolo helps Lowri with her pronunciation
Iolo helps Lowri with her pronunciation

The second task with Lowri turned out to be something of a shock - calling out moves to a Welsh folk song at the famous Pineapple Dance Studios in London. Where John Travolta, Darcey Bussell and Wayne Sleep learned their moves, Iolo Williams and Lowri Turner were now to strut their funky stuff!

Iolo finds new partner...
Iolo finds new partner...


As ever, Lowri proved to be a fast learner with excellent pronunciation and some slick moves. The same could not be said for me. Lowri will, I'm sure, prove to be as proficient a Welsh dance caller as she is a Sosban Fach singer.
As for the next challenge, bring it on!

Lowri and Iolo speak to Radio Wales
Lowri and Iolo speak to Radio Wales


Video Icon Hear Lowri and Iolo speaking to Alan Thompson on BBC Radio Wales




March 2007
IOLO'S FIRST THOUGHTS ON THE BIG WELSH CHALLENGE

On his partner, Lowri:
Lowri's very sharp and I think what's going to help us is the fact that her father was first language Welsh. Some of her pronunciations I thought were exceptional. She had no difficulty at all with the difficult Welsh letters like "ch" and "ll". The biggest disadvantage is that she has nobody around her who can speak Welsh to her. But I think in 12 months, if Lowri really wanted to and if she had the time, she could get to basic conversational Welsh. I do think we could find her going into a shop and asking for things in Welsh.

Iolo first meets Lowri
Iolo first meets Lowri

On her first challenge (to sing Sosban Fach in front of an audience):
I think Lowri had heard Sosban Fach. If she heard somebody sing it properly - not me, like a cat scaled with hot water - I'm sure at the back of her mind she'd think, "Oh actually hang on now, I have heard that". She'll surprise everybody. I think she's got a good singing voice and her pronunciation will come easily to her, I'm sure. There's only the odd word there that she has any difficulty with at all and I think within no time we'll have Lowri on stage with Max Boyce singing Sosban Fach!

Practising Sosban Fach
Practising Sosban Fach

Tea break
Tea break

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