S4C viewers back campaign to get Pobol y Cwm included in The British Soap Awards gong list.

“Last year I contacted ITV to ask them if Pobol y Cwm, a Welsh soap opera, could be included in the British Soap Awards, after a while I got a response saying that, due to the language and popularity, Pobol y Cwm would not be included. After a lot of talks with the crew, cast and fans of Pobol y Cwm I started a petition up last weekend to try and get Pobol y Cwm into the awards” –┬áIeuan Griffiths

Last weekend showbiz royalty from the world of soap opera gathered in Salford to celebrate another twelve months of drama in British soap opera. Emmerdale of course took the top gong for its year of popular and, at times, moving storytelling. However there were some serials missing from the line up. If you live in Scotland, you can enjoy the weekly goings on down at Shieldinch, a fictional district of Glasgow, in River City. The BBC Scotland production began in 2002 and has notched up over 1000 episodes.

Then of course there is Pobol y Cwm. A serial which has been on Welsh television screens since 1974. Originally airing on BBC One Wales, the show currently airs on SC4, which originally started as the country’s Channel 4 service in 1982. Set in the fictional village of Cwmderi, based in the real Gwendraeth Valley, the serial is now getting viewer backing to become part of ITV’s annual celebration of serial, The British Soap Awards.

Pobol y Cwm – People of the Valley – is the beeb’s longest running serial, with thousands of episodes in the archive, the production airs weekdays across Wales. However apart from a brief spell on BBC Two in the 1990s, most of the UK has never seen it.

“The British Soap Awards is held annually to reflect on the talent of British soap. This talent show isn’t representing all British soap operas as the name may suggest, Pobol y Cwm, a Welsh soap opera isn’t included. I think Pobol y Cwm has every right to be included as much as Emmerdale or Hollyoaks, just because it’s Welsh doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.” –┬áIeuan Griffiths

ITV seem to believe that due to the show being a ‘regional’ programme, it wouldn’t gain enough votes across the UK to win any awards, and the language not understandable to most ITV viewers. However that doesn’t explain the absence of River City, which is spoken in English. Being non-networked also shouldn’t be a limitation. Back in the 1960s and 70s, there were a number of regional soap operas which featured in the TV Times televised gong show, with Crossroads – which wasn’t screened across the United Kingdom until 1972 – picking up various trophies during its regionally broadcast days of the sixties, including ITV programme of the year in 1967. Of course both ‘local’ soaps could still pick up gongs in the panel voted sections if they were included.

While it may not be possible to include River City and Pobol y Cwm in the nominations at all for whatever reasons ITV feel they can’t be included, our telly critic Vivian Summers thinks its quite rude to ignore these programmes entirely, suggesting a ‘highlights from…’ could be a feature during the programme.

“I don’t see why ITV couldn’t put together a sixty second feature highlighting the best of the year from River City and Pobol y Cwm. It would at least then acknowledge the creative work of the actors and production teams on these shows. It would hardly confuse viewers if Pip Scoffy introduced it as the best from the none-networked sagas.” – TV Critic Vivian Summers

Viewers can sign the petition, which has gained 400 signatures so far, by visiting its page at Change.org here.

BBC One Scotland’s River City doesn’t get a Soap Award look-in.
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