Teleri Bevan, |
Years on Air
(Y Lolfa, 2004)
Teleri Bevan was an integral part of BBC Wales during its developing years from the 1950s to about 1990. She was an on-air personality who later became a producer and executive of the service in Wales. Bilingual, she worked in both English and Welsh and in both radio and TV.
Born on a farm in Ceredigion (her upbringing is covered in another book), she got in on the ground floor of the public broadcaster in the early days of TV. As a woman in broadcasting, she was a pioneer among those who made it from the microphone to the executive suite. She struggled against the prevailing attitudes of the time.
Bevan was also a key player during the emergence of the Welsh language as a language of broadcast in Wales and in establishing the independence of the Welsh service. Until the 1960s, Welsh (Cymraeg) was denigrated as a language restricted to family and perhaps chapel. BBC Radio provided service in both languages. Later S4C became a Welsh-language TV service for which the BBC provided content (including the hit soap Pobol y Cwm, which has run for decades and has launched the careers of many famous actors including Huw Garmon, Ioan Gruffudd and Rhys Ifans).
In this straightforward account, Bevan recalls her struggles and those of the Welsh BBC for national autonomy and respect. There are also some funny episodes, such as her interview with Indira Gandhi. A colleague reassured Gandhi, then facing attempts on her life, that it was OK -- the Indian leader was in good hands as both he and Bevan were "Cardis" (people from Ceredigion have a certain reputation within Wales).
It's the story of struggle for respect, for women in the workforce, for Wales as a nation. The Central BBC regarded Wales as another "region" of the UK. This was the era of the Aberfan disaster and the drowning of Tryweryn, the Caerfyrddin by-election, and other pivotal moments in the emergence of modern Wales. But these political events are merely the backdrop. Her tale is about intrigue within the BBC itself. The importance of this book is that it is an inside account (sometimes perhaps a bit too inside for those living outside Wales) of these changes during an important period.