Category Archives: Film & TV

REVIEW Rybish (S4C) by Barbara Hughes-Moore

Written by Barry ‘Archie’ Jones (Dimbyd, Run Sbit), Rybish (‘Rubbish’) is an s4c/Cwmni Da comedy series which follows the crew of Cefn Cilgwyn, a recycling centre in North Wales. The centre is understaffed and overlooked, but though the team often disagree or fall out, they slowly become a family. The series premiered during the pandemic and was one of the only British series which carried on filming during lockdown. It’s subtle, kind, mischievous, melancholy – and hilarious.

Clive (Sion Pritchard), king of detritus

Its characters, and the actors who portray them, are the jewels in its crown. Sion Pritchard plays Clive, site manager and hero of the wasteland. Clive is a beleaguered but gallant leader, and while he might lose patience with his team, he would defend them with his last breath.

Val (Mair Tomos)

Mair Tomos Ifans plays Val, the warden of the waste. Always in her yellow jacket and Wales hat, not a lot impresses her, and I admire that. Dyfed Thomas plays Eurwyn, the sweetest man in the world, innocent yet wise; a gentle soul and healer of broken things. You might remember Dyfed from his iconic turn as Brian Lloyd Jones in the series Siop Siafins.

Eurwyn (Dyfed Thomas)

Rhodri Trefor plays Nigel, a soldier in his dreams, a layabout in his reality – though he soon becomes the kind of person you’d want by your side in battle. And last but not least, Betsan Ceiriog plays Bobbi, a college student searching for direction in life. Ceriog, in her debut tv role, is assured and strong – and I’m sure this is the start of a long and successful career.

Bobbi (Betsan Ceiriog)

Clive, Eurwyn and Nigel are like ancient Welsh figures lost in the modern age: a prince without a kingdom, a bard without an audience, a warrior without a battle. Bobbi is the muse who inspires them all to be their best selves. And Val is the sentry who guards the gate – or a druid, whose ways are mysterious to all save herself. With Bobbi in their lives, they all have something to fight for: she is the hope of future generations.

Nigel (Rhodri Trefor)

Writer Jones gets that a comedy’s joy resides in both in the specific and the universal. Rybish examines tradition and innovation, old and new; it finds excitement in the mundane, beauty in the unloved. Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, Rybish never throws anything (or anyone) away.

Series 1 a 2 are on Clic now.

Check out Gareth Williams’ excellent review here

The Cefn Cilgwyn crew

ADOLYGIAD Rybish (S4C) gan Barbara Hughes-Moore

Ysgrifennwyd gan Barry ‘Archie’ Jones (Dimbyd, Run Sbit), mae Rybish ydy cyfres comedi s4c/Cwmni Da sy’n dilyn criw Cefn Cilgwyn, canolfan ailgylchu yn y Gogledd. Mae’r canolfan yn brin o staff ac yn cael ei hanwybyddu, ond er gwaetha nifer o ddadleuon, mae’r criw yn araf yn dod yn deulu. Darlledwch y cyfres cyntaf mewn y pandemig, a Rybish ydy’r un o’r cyfres Brydeinig sy wedi ffilmio yn ystod y clo mawr. Mae’n gynnil, yn garedig, yn ddireidus, yn felangol – ac yn ddoniol iawn.

Clive (Sion Pritchard), brenin y sbwriel

Ei gymeriadau, ac yr actorion sy’n chwarae nhw, ydy’r gemau yn y goron. Mae Sion Pritchard yn chwarae Clive, rheolwr safle ac arwr y wastraff. Clive ydy arweinydd dan warchae ond dewr, ac allai golli amynedd gyda’i dîm, fyddai’n eu hamddiffyn â’i anadl olaf.

Val (Mair Tomos)

Mae Mair Tomos yn chwarae Val, warden y wastraff. Wastad mewn siaced melyn a het Cymru, dim lot yn gallu argraffi Val, ac rwy’n edmygu hynny. Dyfed Thomas yn chwarae Eurwyn, y boi melysaf yn y byd, diniwed ond doeth; enaid tyner ac iachawr o bethau toredig. Efallai eich bod yn cofio Dyfed o’i rôl eiconig yn y cyfres Siop Siafins, fel y gymeriad Brian Lloyd Jones.

Eurwyn (Dyfed Thomas)

Rhodri Trefor yn chwarae Nigel, milwr yn ei freuddwydion, lleyg yn ei realiti – er y daw yn fuan y math o berson y byddech chi ei eisiau wrth eich ochr chi mewn brwydr. Ac yn olaf ond nid yn lleiaf, Betsan Ceiriog yn chwarae Bobbi, myfyrwraig coleg sy’n chwilio am cyfeiriad mewn hi fywyd. Ceiriog, mewn rôl teledu gyntaf, yn gryf ac yn dibetrus – a ddwi’n siwr mae hyn yn dechrau gyrfa hir a lwyddianus.

Bobbi (Betsan Ceiriog)

Mae Clive, Eurwyn a Nigel sy fel cymeriadau hynafol Cymraeg, sy ar goll mewn oes modern: tywysog heb deyrnas, bardd heb cynulleidfa, rhyfelwr heb brwydr. Bobbi yw’r awen sy’n eu hysbrydoli i fod ar eu gorau eu hunain. A mae Val yn gwyliwr sy’n gwarchod y gât – neu derwydd, y mae ei ffyrdd yn ddirgelwch i bawb ond iddi. Gyda Bobbi yn eu bywydau, gallant gael rhywbeth newydd i ymladd drosto: hi ydy’r gobaith o genedlaethau’r dyfodol.

Nigel (Rhodri Trefor)

Mae’r awdur ‘Archie’ Jones yn ddeall bod llawenydd comedi yn gorwedd mewn y penodol a’r cyffredinol. Mae Rybish yn archwilio traddodiad ac arloesi, yr hen ac y newydd; mae’r sioe yn ffeindio cyffro yn y cyffredin, hardd yn y di-gariad. Yn eironig, neu ‘fallai’n addas, nid yw Rybish byth yn taflu unrhywbeth (neu unrhywun) i ffwrdd.

Gwyliwch Cyfres 1 a chyfres 2 am Clic nawr.

Darllenwch adolygiad gwych Gareth Williams o’r cyfres gyntaf yma

Y criw Cefn Cilgwyn

Series Review, Stad, S4C, by Gareth Williams

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

It is the North West that seems to be in the Welsh TV spotlight recently. The final series of Hidden has begun, Rybish has returned, and a brand-new series called Stad has just completed its run.  Set on a council estate near Caernarfon, it combines the drama and comedy of the aforementioned to create a slightly off-piste narrative similar to Enid a Lucy. This has made it lightly entertaining and surprisingly engrossing; a series that does not make you want to binge from the off but, by the time it reaches its final episode, leaves you desperate for more.

Stad is not strictly original, coming ten years after its highly-popular predecessor Tipyn o Stad ended on S4C. Viewers of that series will recognise the return of a few familiar characters, not least the Gurkha family. However, no prior knowledge is needed to enter this new chapter in the life of Maes Menai, described as “North Wales’ most colourful housing estate”. The opening scene might feel a bit overwhelming and thus confusing for those, like me, entering this world for the first time. But it does not take long to adjust to its tragi-comic genre and realise that the historic connections between some of these characters are no barrier to its accessibility. Instead, one becomes steadily intrigued by the issues, situations and circumstances that arise within the first episode and as the series progresses. Mental health is but one subject which is tackled with a surprising sensitivity, particularly in respect of trauma and loss. Elen Gwynne, for example, gives the most acute performance as Susan whose struggle with bereavement is portrayed onscreen in such a way as to be funny without being derisive.

The writers Manon Wyn Jones, Angharad Elen and Daf Palfrey have pitched the darkness and light of this drama to perfection. There is a bit of a Breaking Bad influence that seems to hang over it in more ways than one. There is the obvious connection to the selling of drugs for financial security, but it is also the hapless nature of the partnership between Ed Lovell (Bryn Fôn) and Dan (Sion Eifion) that strikes chords with the father-son relationship of Walter White and Jesse. The two also find themselves in sometimes absurd situations, like being held hostage by a crossbow-wielding farmer by the name of Iona Kebab (Janet Aethwy). Such wild, crazy scenarios end up contrasting nicely with the far more real-world dilemmas of other characters, like Alaw. Begw Rowlands ensures a real likability towards her character, playing her with a confidence that is tinged with a deeper, hidden vulnerability. It draws much sympathy when she discovers that she is pregnant, and makes her gently blossoming relationship with Kim (Gwenno Fôn) all-the-more sweeter.

Stad can feel a bit pedestrian at times, measured and paced, with no rush to excite or entice viewers into a suspenseful or twisting narrative. It prefers to operate at the most basic level of human drama even as some of its storylines take on a surrealist edge. This means that we get to know the characters themselves in the context of their ordinary lives and is what makes the final part of the series so unexpected and heightens the tension around it. We come to really care as Alaw attacks her dad Keith (Rhodri Meilir), with seemingly-terminal ramifications, and Ed Lovell finds himself trapped in the basement of a burning house. It ratchets up the anticipation before running into the closing credits to devasting effect. Suddenly, it is edge-of-your-seat stuff. A second series is demanded.

Stad becomes a series that gradually wins your heart and then has the power to break it.

Click here to watch the full series.

Reviewed by
Gareth Williams

Review The Garden Cinema, The Worst Person In The World/Cries & Whispers by James Ellis

Photo credit: The Garden Cinema

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) The Worst Person In The World

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) Cries and Whispers

A recent Time Out article caught my eye concerning a brand spankingly new cinema that has opened in the heart of London. To my delight, the discovery of The Garden Cinema holds up as a triumph for my most recent London visitation. If you like all things Art Deco then you have to look no further. The reds and golds are all here, the angular designs and the glamour of Hollywood’s yesteryear are all present. Sitting in Cinema 1 for two features, these held up as the most polished, comfortable seats I’ve sat on, quite similar to the ones in Cardiff’s Cinema 2 at Chapter Arts Centre…you won’t want to leave them.

I was greeted with great friendliness by staff, I found myself having gin (a rarity for me) and cups of dried pineapple and cashews. It’s amazing to see a cinema that will allow you to take glasses into the cinema and also maintain a no noise policy by having snack in quiet tubs. I did hear the odd rustle in the back row and some chatting in the first film, but thankfully that died down. Having a naughty look in Cinema 2, it was an even more intimate space, very welcoming and warming. It’s the touches here and there that sell this arthouse cinema. The posters, prints and the like all add a elegance not seen in today’s cinema. There is also an ethos on no trailers, instead short films to prelude the feature presentations. There is talk of having local film maker night as well. I will take to court any Londoner who will not support this pristine new enterprise and make it a regular for film and drinks.

The Worst Person in the World
Dir: Joachim Trier. 128 mins, 15

With Oscar nominations to boot, this fresh film sees a young protagonist Julie go around Oslo, lost in one relationship thinking of having another. Renate Reinsve compels the role of a woman who doesn’t really know what she wants, very relatable in today’s age of Me Too, social media and the general angst of living. The film pops with some flowery cinematography. Two scenes stand out: when Julie offers the blow back of her cigarette to new lover Elvind (a solid Herbert Nordrum) and when time stands still for Julie to sneak off to meet him. Poor Askel played by Anders Danielsen Lie goes through a lot in the film, an artist who creates the Norwegian equivalent of Fritz the Cat.

A scene in a radio interview speaks volumes about today’s cancel culture, both sides with fair points here. A fine performance form this sweet actor, sadly the third act leads to little in a Cancer diagnosis for the character and no where for the story to go other than having Julie spoil once again the new relationship she was in (perhaps that’s an assumption? ). There are predictable elements as well, a scene involving a shot of her legs in the shower could only lead to a miscarriage. The father sub plot could have also been tackled a bit more considering the run time. See for the camera work and decent, amusing acting.

I also caught the tail end of the short Single concerning romantic with people with physical disabilities. This appeared highly skilled, with a nice touch of romance. Will try and find a link to watch fully.

Cries and Whispers
Dir: Ingmar Bergman. 91 mins, 15

Death, regret and family resentments permeate Cries and Whispers. This is top quality Bergman, well regarded as Sweden’s finest master. His Persona is a personal favourite, yet this is up there for me. A quiet opening, the stillness with ticking clocks will soon fade away as two sisters come to term with their other dying sister. A chilling film by any standard, the psychology of the women remains fascinating, the maid Anna also a ground breaking exploration as care giver and loyal friend. Biblical sights also frequent the period setting, some very obvious. “A tissue of lies” said in the film seem to capture the aspect of the story well and whether Agnes did actually die at the end. Martha and Karen has hate for each other for no real reason and as the film goes on they appear to reconcile if only for a while. Each woman get’s their back stories fairly portrayed, helping us understand their plight much more. Most scenes fade to crimson red, a motif in the scene with plenty of blood seen later in a disbursing moment involving a broken shard from a wine glass. Of course, we have the famous expressionist close up, pure chiaroscuro every time.

This is devastating cinema.

Cries and Whispers runs at The Garden Cinema till 7 April 2022.
The Worst Person In The World runs at The Garden Cinema till 21 April 2022

Review, Life and Death in the Warehouse, BBC Cymru Wales, by Gareth Williams

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The first thing to say is that nobody dies. Yet that is hardly a ringing endorsement of the working practices on show in Life and Death in the Warehouse. The BBC Cymru drama lays bare the secret world of online distribution centres. And for anyone used to the quick and easy clicks of internet shopping, this is a must-see to make you think twice before placing your next order with Amazon. It makes for hard-hitting and eye-opening television. This is the worst of consumer capitalism.

Megan (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) has been accepted on a fast-track graduate scheme at her local centre. Becoming a trainee manager, she is tasked with ensuring that her team of workers keep up to speed with their daily ‘pick rate’. She is required to monitor their movements constantly via CCTV, praising those who exceed the target and calling out the ones who fall behind. Childhood friend Alys (Poppy-Lee Friar) becomes one of the latter when she confines in Megan that she is pregnant. Instead of receiving assistance and the appropriate support however, Alys is subjected to a ‘personal enhancement plan’ that remains fixated on the numbers at the expense of her health and wellbeing. It is hard to believe that companies operating in 21st Century Britain would treat workers in this way. Yet as it declares from the outset, “This film is inspired by hundreds of real stories”. To say it is shocking then is an understatement.

Director Joseph Bullman ensures that there are plenty of close-ups, with the majority of shots trained on the faces of the actors to capture the intensity, pressure and emotional strain that their characters are under. It means that their environment is pushed right up against the screen. There is no getting away from it. We become embroiled in the ideology of this high-performance workplace, not only witnessing its effect on Megan and Alys but being subjected to it in some way ourselves such is the visceral nature of the storytelling. Edwards brings an incredible vulnerability to her role. She is at once very different from her infamous turn as Esme Shelby in Peaky Blinders. Yet in spite of her obvious nerves and eagerness to please, there is something of the steeliness of that character that seeps in as the drama progresses. It becomes a negative force in this instance however, used to block out a compassionate and caring side to Megan in keeping with the ‘customer-fixated’ culture that she finds herself trapped in. Friar, for her part, puts in a noteworthy performance as one who experiences the most extreme impact of that culture. The gradual decline in Alys’s physical ability to undertake the tasks at hand, and the increasing level of stress she finds herself under, is acutely felt, in part due to Friar’s concentrated effort to keep her character’s emotions in check against a backdrop of sustained bombardment under which the exhaustion, tears and pain slowly to show.

In a sense, both of these characters are subject to the injustices of a system that exploits, dehumanises, and almost kills them. The obsession with media PR over and above medical concern for an employee is but one unbelievable instance that breeds anger in the heart of the viewer. To understand this as reality takes some coming-to-terms-with, not least in the face of the preposterous responses of the management team. Yet Craig Parkinson (Danny) and Kimberley Nixon (Donna) play their roles with such deliberate ease that the manipulation and false empathy emanating from their characters’ intentions becomes entirely plausible. It makes one very aware of the insidious nature of language; and how it can creep unsuspectingly into relationships.

Life and Death in the Warehouse brings us the best in factual drama. It shines a daring light onto the unseen but now-necessary world of warehouse workers who are at the coalface of our online purchasing habits. It finds the companies who ‘employ’ them, “Some… you will know, others you won’t have heard of”, seriously wanting. Bullman directs in the same unrelenting way as he did with its predecessor, The Left Behind. Meanwhile, Aimee-Ffion Edwards and Poppy Lee Friar lead a superb majority-Welsh cast in depicting the dark side to our unrelenting consumerism. It should make us pause a moment and take note. It should even make us turn to look for something better. It shows that the rights fought so hard for in the past are in danger of so easily slipping away.

Click here to watch on iPlayer.

Reviewed by
Gareth Williams

Review Death on the Nile by Valerie Speed

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

In the midst of storm Dudley, a group of strangers take refuge from the calamity outside. Remaining hidden in the darkness of the cinema auditorium seems like the most sensible thing to do. Settle back and escape into the world of others. To a place that couldn’t contrast more with the climate we currently found ourselves in. Egypt.

Of course, it wasn’t just seeking shelter that took me to the cinema. I had been eagerly anticipating this new remake of Death on the Nile. Although, if I’m honest, having seen repeatedly the 1978 production starring Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, (which I loved) I did wonder if I might get bored, convinced as I was that I knew the story so well that there would be no surprises. One review described this remake as a ‘dumb, lumbering adaptation…’. Not very promising. Yet, how wrong could I be.

Death on the Nile is one in a series of crime novels written by Agatha Christie, featuring her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Naturally, then we will expect a murder mystery; a simple set up of victim, a line up on suspects and to be taken through the means, motive, and opportunity to the conclusion of whodunnit. The plot remains the same. A young, wealthy newlywed, Linnet Ridgeway, is murdered while honeymooning in Egypt. She is surrounded by friends and family along with her new husband, each, we discover with some reason to kill. Add to this the arrival of her husband’s scorned betrothed, and the set up for murder to ensue is complete.

Director and star, Kenneth Branagh, it seems to me, had two problems to overcome for this film to work. The first, how can suspense and intrigue be maintained when Death on the Nile is such a well-known story. The second, when even his own creator, Agatha Christie, eventually described Hercule Poirot as a ‘detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep’ how do you make the main character who will drive the narrative, likeable enough, not to be irksome, fully rounded enough not to be a stilted caricature, and risk losing the audience midway.

This remake begins, not in Egypt but in the trenches of the First World War, the commanding officer reading out the orders that have been received. The fate of the soldiers is sealed. Death hangs over each man. A young Poirot, though, suggests a brilliant but risky strategy. Hope rises once more. His plan is executed. I could hear the muffled gasps in the audience, a moment of tension. The outcome made me flinch with horror. Our first mini rollercoaster. So, the dye was cast, just as much as this vignette gave an insight into how Poirot evolved it made sure the audience understood that we were not going to be on firm ground. We had to be ready to feel uncomfortable at times and be caught off guard.

Fast forward and Poirot looks as he was described by Agatha Christie, enjoying the hospitality of a jazz club, and observing intently the lives of others play out. This is our first introduction to the main characters in this detective story.  Already there are tensions so when the same people congregate in the luxury of Egypt, we know something sinister is going to happen, we’re just not quite sure when.

Life for these people is lavish, sumptuous. These are the rich, surrounded by beauty, able to have anything they desire, and here they display a carefree decadence and gaiety. But in a moment, this can all too quickly be dampened with a sense of foreboding and trouble walks in. It’s dangerous to be complacent.

Deftly handled by Branagh, his sleight of hand, does solve those two problems. What is delivered is the suspense and drama you hope for from a murder mystery.

What those early added scenes do is create a feeling of being destabilised which is the pattern threading through the entire film.  The audience is moved moment to moment from a sense of doom, to calm and to a sense of horror. I, for example, came very quickly undone. Convinced as I was that I knew the killer from the off, as the jazz club scene played out, I became less convinced of this certainty until I was just as intrigued to find out what was going to unfold as if I was coming to the story anew.

As the film progresses, it feels to me that the timeline changes slightly from the earlier makes of this film. The characteristics, life stories and actions of a couple of the characters from previous films are subsumed into different characters. The effect is that you never have one of those moments when you’re able to say, ‘oh here it comes, I know what’s going to happen now’ because nothing maps exactly onto what has gone before.

The film is also beautifully shot. The cinematography is sublime, with glimpses of beautiful vistas of the Nile and the banks of the Nile. And yet, with all its beauty, the effect of seeing the boat, as big as it is, on which the characters reside being dwarfed by the vastness of the landscape adds as a metaphor for no longer being grounded or anything being certain. So easily life can be capsized. The small world in which the action is unfolding looks suddenly isolated and vulnerable, much as we begin to see the remaining potential victims with a killer on the loose.

There are moments when I and the rest of the audience gasp aloud. As you will know if you are familiar with Death on the Nile, or expect if you are not, there is more than one murder. Committed most shockingly. There is a grotesque reality about the way the bodies are seen stored in the most undignified of ways amongst the cold meats. But that is a reality of death in these most horrendous of circumstances. It is cruel.

Much is made of the idea of love in this film. Finding love, losing love. Seizing every opportunity to hold onto it when, living in an era of societal expectations, everything can be lost in a moment, and any survivor left forever heartbroken, no longer the person they were. In this lies motivation. If the audience already know the who, the means and the opportunity, then motivation can remain a seam to explore. The ongoing theme of life and loss, of how everything can be transitory is another way the audience is kept engaged.

There have been some reviews which have suggested Branagh is over dramatic in his portrayal of Poirot. For me though, I loved his portrayal. Of course, Poirot will have moments of melodrama – he’s ‘ego-centric’. Far from hiding his flaws, they are pointed out by one of the characters in the film, and fully acknowledged. With some regret, Poirot acknowledges he is not the man he wanted to be – he wanted to be a farmer – but the man he was turned into and remained as.

We do see a softer, more human side to Poirot. With the sultry, sassy, Salome Otterbourne, played by Sophie Okenedo, Poirot just might fall in love. It would be wonderful to think Branagh would consider a third Poirot film and for that story to unfold. Bringing to life the work of Agatha Christie for a whole new generation.

REVIEW, STUDIO KILLERS: 404 PILOT, YOUTUBE, BY JAMES ELLIS

FILM & TV

DECEMBER 18TH, 2021 JAMES ELLIS

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Truly a group who have gone under the radar, Studio Killers have made some banger club tracks and also embraced some of the mystery surrounding them. Cherry, their lead “singer” is loud and proud, unashamedly herself. Watching this figure in songs like Ode to the Bouncer and Eros & Apollo, you can only fall in love this this outrageous CGI heroine, who seems to get herself in all sorts of trouble. In short, she’s your toxic friend with a heart.

With this cult success under their belt, a Kickstarter raising nearly £130,000 went towards an animated pilot, now finally for all adult eyes to watch. The name 404 is a wink to the error number which infuriates anyone unsuccessfully attempting to get on a website. The premise seems to be that the band are stuck in an internet realm which rules supreme. This is a world where people can be banished by the algorithm and hearts sent to people powers up their strength. Basically just real life, with more advanced technology. This pilot packs a lot into its mere 11 minutes and some things are missed upon the first watch. Some inside jokes about bands having a break and some meta humour help flavour the already multi-coloured pot. I’d like to think this group are well aware that they might not be getting the recognition they truly deserve.

The script is not as funny as it’s trying to be, some of the line delivery and quips don’t quite hit the mark. Many jokes about feminism and toxic masculinity have been done much better in the past, as the characters are thrust into Planet Jeff in the Reddit System (groan). One joke about their missing manager called Bi-Polar Bear harks back to an old internet cartoon called Queer Duck with a character bearing the same name. You get the vibe of Adventure Time, The Yellow Submarine, Daria and a touch of Sci-Fi to boot. Their are multiple cliches, though I find the animation endearing, with its minimal, stylistic lines. Some of the mouth flaps for the characters are not in sync either. That will need work.

There are some highlights. Cherry prepping for her Style Battle is a brief moment of dazzling fashion and visuals. Pornica, a fine villain to the plot, is a giant gas mask wearing dominatrix with hair that seems to waft like fumes. Grey Griffin is always swell in everything she’s in and here saves a lot of the other inconsistencies. Her design is my favourite part of the show and I hope she isn’t just a one demential baddie. Though Cherry’s voice has been drastically changed (it was originally an English accent and believed to be voiced by a man) though Hayley Marie Norman does a fine job, some delivery particularly well executed. Also voicing Cherry’s love interest Jenny (how could we forget her from her own song?) is hopefully not just a lone POC for the series, some nice lines here and there and hopefully more chemistry will develop between them both. Thankfully, the anthropomorphic animals (Goldie Foxx and Dyna Mink to name a few) in the group still keep their English accents, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

For a pilot it is a fine effort but its flaws need seeing to. Of course, I’m here for the journey and I look forward to watching more.

Watch on YouTube now. For mature audiences only.

Reviewed by James Ellis

Review, In My Skin, Series 2, BBC3, by Gareth Williams

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The second series of In My Skin has really got under my skin these past few days. Content simply to watch at first, I’ve found myself itching to write something in response after a final episode in which the emotional pull of this award-winning drama really tugged at the heartstrings. I laughed. I cried. I smiled at the poignancy and hope with which this coming-of-age story signed off. Writer Kayleigh Llewelyn has really captured something special with this semi-autobiographical series. And actor Gabrielle Creevy and crew have brought it beautifully to life.

Kayleigh Llewelyn

From the continued subtlety with which sexuality is explored and presented, to its unashamed yet understated presentation of Welshness, the second series of In My Skin matches the achievements of the first. It does come across as much more arthouse in both pace and aesthetic than its predecessor. Yet this slow burn, highly-polished look only gives it a gravitas that adds to the verisimilitude which made it so relatable and ruinous to begin with. Bethan (Creevy) is still living out a compartmentalised existence, where her efforts to keep family and friends separate are increasingly tested this time around. Her mum Trina (Jo Hartley), in recovery from bipolar, is found to be working at the bingo by best friends Travis (James Wilbraham) and Lydia (Poppy Lee Friar). Her father (Rhod Meilir), still an abusive alcoholic, becomes the subject of taunts by class clown Priest (Aled ap Steffan) after his devastating actions toward his wife’s secret lover are found out. Meanwhile, her blossoming relationship with Cam (Rebekah Murrell) sees the roots of shame surfacing from beneath her steely exterior. All this forces Bethan to face up to who she is and where she comes from.

Rebekah Murrell (Cam) and Gabrielle Creevy (Bethan)
(C) Expectation – Photographer: Huw John

This emergence and gradual acceptance of personal identity is both beautiful and heartrending to watch. The scenes between Bethan and Cam become increasingly delicate as their relationship develops. More artistic shots, close-ups, movements, and softer conversations bring to mind the craftsmanship of Normal People. They help to convey a vulnerability in Bethan that has so far been hidden but that Cam gently draws into the light. Such tender compassion is matched only by Trina, whose fragility may lead to a relapse in the wake of husband Dylan’s actions, but is also a source of strength in her daughter’s time of need. In one of the most grace-filled scenes of dialogue, in the final episode, within the space of a few minutes, I found myself reduced to tears as she responds to Bethan’s brokenness with a touching recollection of love, failure, and hope. Creevy and Hartley are simply sublime in this incredible mother-daughter exchange. Their conversation is painted onto the camera lens with such gentle brushstrokes as to form the most exquisite piece of sacrificial art. It begins a chain of events which, though numerous and rich enough to warrant a further episode, nevertheless see Bethan find her wings and set off via coach for a new life in London town. The look-to-camera right at the end, complete with a modest, appreciative smile, only adds to the positive vitality which imbues these final moments of a series that will be sorely missed but has ended on a high.

Gabrielle Creevy

In My Skin is an extraordinary piece of television. It has made stars of Gabrielle Creevy and Jo Hartley. Kayleigh Llewelyn has brought something magical to the screen. I thought I’d said everything that there was to say about this wonderful drama. Turns out, in light of series two, I needed to say a little bit more.

Click here to watch the full series.

Reviewed by
Gareth Williams

Series Review, On the Edge, Channel 4/BlackLight Television by Gareth Williams

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

It is a clique to say that I laughed and cried at Channel 4’s anthology series, On the Edge, but it’s true. The three films, devised by new and emerging writers, are stirring, disturbing, entertaining and gripping. Each of them explores the impact of mental health in families through parent-child relationships in ways that are innovative, empowering, and unapologetic. They make for exceptional viewing in their own right; shown together, they become an unmissable 90-minutes of superb drama. I devoured them in a single sitting.

The first, ‘Mincemeat’, by Samantha O’Rourke, is a funny and moving tale starring Aimee Lou Wood. Jane is fresh out of school, working in a shoe shop, trying her best to be a good daughter to her controlling mum (Rosie Cavaliero). When she meets Nish, a boy she had a crush on in school, a sweet romance blossoms between them. However, the far-right views of Jane’s mum cause an irreparable rift that sees the lovers separate but, ultimately, leads Jane to find a sense of purpose. Nikhil Palmer (Nish) and Wood are perfectly suited, portraying the social awkwardness, first-kiss innocence, and gentle encouragement of a developing relationship with rich plausibility. Palmer’s kindness is in direct contrast to the harshness of Cavaliero, who plays Jane’s mother with a good deal of unconscious irony whilst injecting a slight empathy that reveals the pain behind much of her behaviour. She uses the death of her husband, Jane’s father, to guilt trip her children when it suits her, creating a distorted view of him that is blown apart in a moment of revelation that brings Jane freedom. What O’Rourke manages to do so deftly is to work through the underlying issues and motivations behind these characters with a delightful touch of humour. It ensures their humanity is not lost to a dark political underbelly that can otherwise lead to simplistic caricatures. The soundtrack only contributes to the wealth of emotion that exudes through the screen.

The emotion is no less pronounced in the second film, ‘Cradled’, by Nessah Muthy. Here, it is the extraordinary performance of Ellora Torchia as new mum Maia that makes for a compelling watch. She has a seemingly comfortable and ideal life. However, underneath the surface, something more sinister is stirring. She begins to hear a voice, and thinks her baby is in danger. What is witnessed over an enthralling and gut-wrenching half-hour is a descent into mental illness that creates real fear. That fear is so palpably felt through the screen that the tension becomes unbearable at times. Torchia really does embody her character, achieving a verisimilitude that causes genuine terror for its audience. It is not so much the effective horror tropes used in the telling of this story that contribute to this real anxiety as the fact that it involves a little child who appears to be actually at risk such is Torchia’s ability in conveying the awful experience of Maia. Muthy writes in such a way as to give her protagonist a sense of agency whilst simultaneously losing some of that agency to darker forces. The supporting characters are all culpable to some degree of ignoring or belittling her awareness that something is not right. The drama thus becomes a kind of rallying cry to all of us to take mental health seriously. It is, in part, a depiction of the consequences of failing to do so adequately. I breathed a huge sigh of relief at the optimism of its final scenes.

Optimism also marks the final film, ‘Superdad’, by Daniel Rusteau. Not before an incredible amount of nerves have been shredded however. When Keon (Martin McCann) turns up at his ex-partner’s house to wish his son a happy birthday, he gets the door slammed shut in his face. He is determined to make Wesley’s day special though, so he waits until he is walking to school to take him on a road trip that, slowly but surely, is not all it’s crept up to be. Rusteau drip-feeds information that gradually causes unease both for the viewer and Wesley (Joseph Obasohan). First about the car; then a quick dash away from a café; and then, finally, a confrontation at a petrol station. The interaction between the characters at this final point cause the façade of Keon to fall to such an extent as to give rise to worry. Obasohan is so adept at portraying the doubt clearly arising in his character’s mind that, coupled with the juddery movements of the handheld camera accompanying McCann, it is difficult not to be immersed in the tension of the situation. Similarly, his strength at resisting his dad’s calls to get back in the car when he realises the facile nature of his explanations is deeply felt. It conveys a maturity that, like Wood’s Jane, surpasses that of the adult parent, revealing a wisdom and thirst for emotional honesty in young people that can too often be ignored or go unappreciated by their elders. It is the recognition of this at the film’s end that makes it all the more beautiful and heartfelt.

Together, these films express the effects of mental health within modern British families. They are stories told with sensitivity; thrilling yet heartfelt. Filmed across Wales, and made with the support of Creative Wales, they offer the opportunity for new and emerging talent both on and off camera to gain experience working on a production that is on the cutting-edge of storytelling and broadcast on a mainstream channel. This is what public-service broadcasting is for. The three writers that have had the opportunity to showcase their work on such a platform are all deserving of further commissions. If their future stories are as veracious and enjoyable as these half-hourly instalments have been then their future looks bright. Go check them out if you haven’t already. They are simply excellent.

All three films can be viewed on 4OD here.

Reviewed by
Gareth Williams

An Interview with singer-songwriter Eleri Angharad, conducted by Gareth Williams

In this latest interview, Get the Chance member Gareth Williams chats to singer-songwriter Eleri Angharad. Their chat takes place in the form of a podcast, the third in a trial series in conversation with Welsh creatives. Eleri talks about her new EP, Nightclub Floor, as well as Swansea’s music scene, songwriting, her creative journey as a musician, and Welsh identity.

Click here to listen to the interview.

To find out more about Eleri, visit her website here, or follow her on social media @ImEleriAngharad.

You can purchase Nightclub Floor on her website, or stream it here.

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