Y Gwyll / Hinterland BBC TV Series
The BBC TV series Y Gwyll (The Darkness), titled 'Hinterland' in English/bilingual version.
For those who don't know about this and may be curious, it is a detective drama series in a similar style to recent Scandi-drama/Nordi-noir series from Denmark and Sweden such as Wallander, The Killing, The Bridge etc. It was the first BBC drama series with dialogue in both English and Welsh.
I was curious about one thing. I'm aware Welsh speakers do frequently switch between Welsh and English whilst speaking as the mood/expression takes them, or whether they feel they may be able to better express something in one language or the other. However; in the series it did sometimes seem a little arbitrary. I wondered whether Welsh speakers who watched the BBC Wales/BBC Four versions felt it seemed natural, or not?
The series was originally shown entirely with Welsh dialogue on S4C; then mostly in English interspersed with Welsh dialogue (English subtitles) first on BBC One Wales then later nationally on BBC Four. Series 2 (season 2, en-US) was shown recently on BBC Wales and was available until recently on iPlayer (to UK residents). For viewers in UK regions outside Wales it was necessary to search by name (Hinterland). At time of writing the last episode is about to expire. S2 will be shown later on BBC Four.
Incidentally, both S4C (ch. 120) and BBC One Wales (ch. 976 HD, ch. 964 SD) are available nationwide on Freesat. Viewers in Wales, of course (depending upon how they set their postcode), receive the BBC Wales variant as their BBC One (SD) on ch. 101 and BBC One HD on ch. 108.
According to The Guardian (newspaper) each scene was recorded first in English then again with Welsh dialogue, since not all the crew spoke Welsh.
Incidentally; I know it was shot in winter (or maybe summer, given that it is Wales - joking!) and is made to look quite bleak, moreover, most of the characters also had a troubled backstory, but I don't remember a single smile from any character. Maybe it was because the actors had to record every single scene a second time in Welsh?! :-)
Amusingly, according to Wikipedia, Netflix has streamed the first series in the US; however the dialogue was exclusively in English except for when a Welsh poem is spoken - which is close-captioned as '[speaks German]'!!
European viewers outside the UK without a Freesat receiver may also receive these channels FTA from the Astra 2E/2F/2G satellite at 28.2°e depending upon location and dish size.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03sgfbz (link will probably not work outside UK).
I'm not a Welsh speaker (yet!) but I live in the area where Y Gwyll was filmed and I thought the Welsh/English mix was very true to life in the English version. In the all-Welsh, it seemed a bit odd that Mathias, an outsider newly arrived from London, would be speaking Welsh. In the English/bilingual version, the local characters - his colleagues - speak English to him and Welsh to locals who they know speak Welsh. They generally speak English in formal situations or when some of the people they're talking to might not understand Welsh.
Incidentally, the scenes were filmed in Welsh first, then English, not the other way round ;-)
Although he was only newly arrived from London, Mathias (the character) is Welsh and able to speak Welsh. He had moved to London and spent some/many years there working for the Met. Although I can't remember if it is made clear whether he originally came from the Aberystwyth area, or elsewhere. The impression is given that his Police career began in a Welsh Constabulary, but I can't remember if it was stated. The actor himself, who is also Welsh, it was quoted spoke Welsh, but working on the series improved his fluency.
You're right that his colleages tend to speak mostly English to him, but I think the amount of Welsh he speaks increases gradually over the series. I'm trying to remember if they speak Welsh to him at all?
Seems the Guardian got it wrong about the order of shooting, then. :-)
My understanding (although I've probably just made this up), is that Mathias is from an Anglicised part of south Wales - possibly Merthyr, where the actor comes from - and isn't a native speaker. Maybe he went through the Welsh language education system, but his Welsh doesn't sound like the Cymraeg most of the other characters speak.
I know this isn't a popular position, but I actually prefer the English/bilingual version to the (nearly) wholly Welsh version. The tension between Mathias and the others, especially at the beginning of series one, makes a lot more sense if he doesn't speak Welsh.
Sorry, just notice you'd already mentioned Merthyr.
Actually, the outsider being promoted over an in-place officer is a rather over-used plot device. Especially with US series.
I certainly prefer the bilingual version to the English-only version! :-) The English-only version seems to lose something and doesn't seem very real to life given the setting.
In the Welsh-only clips, trailers and interviews on the S4C website, he appears to speak fluent Cymraeg but my ears are not attuned to what dialect it might be or how good his command of Welsh is. Although I'm curious to know. Your suggestion sounds entirely plausible to me.
According to Wikipedia, Richard Harrington (the actor) grew up in Merthyr Tydfil, which is, I believe, a lower percentage Welsh-speaking area. He was reported as saying in an interview that he fluency improved as filming for the series went on.
All seems to fit and it would make sense for his character too.
I think his character is supposed to be able to speak Welsh in the bilingual version, but if his character was unconfident that would still add to the tension, as you say. Although, and I may be misrembering this, I thought DI Mared Rhys might have been expecting in-situ promotion to DCI but he was placed instead and some of the tension came from that. Maybe I'm confusing it with Broadchurch which had the same situation to create initial tension, albeit with lower ranks.
Richard Harrington certainly speaks Welsh fluently - see this interview in a pub (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1HUe9NXy9g) for example - but Mathias's Welsh is much more formal than Harrington's own idiom.
Another interesting thing to look out for if you watch the Welsh version is the use of ti and chi between different pairs of characters. Mared starts off using chi with Tom, but is on ti terms by the end of the first series, if I remember correctly. The two younger officers never use ti with Mathias, and maybe not with Mared either.
That's really very interesting. Sadly, when I watched the first series my knowledge of Welsh was non-existent and despite steady progress through this course I didn't and probably wouldn't have picked up on that by ear. :-) In the bilingual version, the body-language suggested that you are probably right.
It's something I'd not fully considered before but it is an interesting difference with English that we have to pick up from body language and subtle hints in speech what most other languages seem to formalise in language.
I also just had the thought that the bilingual and Welsh-only versions may not be entirely indentical, with subtle differences perhaps.
The first series of 'Y Gwyll (Hinterland)' is available on DVD. Be careful if you order it, because 'Hinterland (y Gwyll)' is the English-language version with only a few examples of sub-titled Welsh, whereas 'Y Gwyll (Hinterland)' is the Welsh-language version with only occasional bits of English, but with sub-titles in English all through.
For anyone who knows the area, it is quite fun to work out how they are supposed to get from place to place - they might be heading from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge, for example, but the clip will show them on a completely different road in real life which happens to look more atmospheric!
There are some sequences where locals have spotted that they rush into one building, then cut to an interior scene in a different building, and then cut to them running out of a third one.
The 'police station' is a well-known and impressive old building on Aberystwyth sea-front. It has been empty for ages, but has apparently recently been sold for re-development. The hotel at Devil's Bridge is a real one and it would be interesting to know if their business has gone up or even gone down following its horrible back-story in 'Y Gwyll'!
A good series if you like crime noir, anyway.
Yes, that sort of thing happens all the time on film and TV. :-) Anyone familiar with London (or any major city) can be driven nuts watching people driving incredibly bizarre circuitous routes that even take in other cities! Also, they seem to be able to drive from Central London to Southampton or Dover in about 10 minutes!
BBC Four is available FTA (Free-to-Air) on the Astra 2G satellite at 28.2°E, for those within the footprint of the UK beam.
HD: 11023H (DVB-S2 8-PSK MPEG-4 23000 2/3), SD: 10773H (DVB-S MPEG-2 22000 5/6). If you don't know what those details mean, they'll probably be of no use to you anyway. :-)
It's been on my 'to watch' list on netflix for a while. I haven't seen anything of it yet. now i'm quite curious whether the netflix version in the netherlands is also only english and not welsh. probably is. Would be a shame.
What did you think of the series?
Sadly; I just checked the Netflix UK version and Ellis is right, it only has an English soundtrack in the settings. I skipped through trying to find a scene where I definately remembered they spoke Welsh and it does seem it's English-only.
I did spot one wry smile though! :-)
I checked the options; there is only english audio. I'm an half hour into the first episode and have maybe heard three welsh words, so i'll take that as the confirmation that this not the bilangual version. It is still really nice though .I like it. beautiful landscapes, lovely atmosphere - for a detective..
If the KRO ever broadcasts the series again, I will definitely try to see it and detect some Welsh :-)
As I remember it, it's a while ago since I watched the first episode, there was some Welsh dialogue at the beginning, just as the main character arrives at the crime scene, then later, quite a bit at the scene at the amusement arcade. I skipped through to the amusement arcade scene and it all seemed to be English dialogue. Seemed strangely wrong somehow.
The beautiful landscapes feature frequently and quite prominently throughout the series. :-) They're spoilt for choice, of course, it is being shot in Wales. :-)
I enjoyed it. It's very good I think. If you enjoy the Scandi-style dramas you are likely to enjoy it. It's also has a distinct British feel, but it has clearly been influenced by the Danish dramas of recent years. Shetland is another BBC series in a similar vein - entirely in English (no Shetlandic that I remember).
I think the second series improved on the first and fleshed-out the personal background stories a lot more. But boy, every character seems to be having a miserable time in someway or other! Personally I would suspect the bilingual version would work better even for anyone not learning Welsh. It adds to the atmostphere somehow.
Hard to know about Netflix. They do show different versions in different countries so the Netherlands version might be the UK version, or maybe even the S4C entirely Welsh version. Americans appear very reluctant to watch anything with subtitles, I understand - in fact anything not in (their version of) English. Although Ellis's comment doesn't seem promising.
According to Wikipedia: 'KRO premiered the bilingual version on 20 May 2014'
If you are in The Netherlands, can you receive BBC Four?
One thing you could try; when the video is playing, check the audio settings. Sometimes Netflix, at least in countries that don't have English as their main language, may have several different language tracks available. How you access this menu depends upon which device you are using.
On Netflix, Brazil, Sweden and The Netherlands usually have an English sound track, although sometimes the Scandinavian countries only allow a choice between Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish.
The other thing I was curious about, and keep meaning to ask, is whether the version/dialect of Welsh matches what you would expect to hear in that part of Wales, Aberystwyth / Ceredigion? My suspicion is that they use a version of the (largely) Southern Welsh being taught by this course.
I understand this may not be a simple or even sensible question. For a start although they mention surrounding real-life towns and villages, notably Borth, I'm not certain if they mention Aberystwyth by name as the location of their Police station. So it is not clear that Aberystwyth is meant to be the setting or whether it is standing in for a fictional town. In real life Police Officers may move around stations and even between forces, especially after promotions. So it would be likely that they might have a range of dialects. The real force for the area is Dyfed-Powys I believe but they either never mention that or use a fake name - I can't remember.
Also, Aberystwyth being a university town means that there will be a mix of Welsh dialects and non-Welsh speaking Welsh and English (as well as other British and European) accents in daily use.
Nevertheless, the Welsh spoken away from Aberystwyth would be expected to be the original dialect of the area. What would that be?
Yeah, they definitely mention Aberystwyth by name, but you're right, they've fictionalised the name of the police force, and I'm not sure if they even mention Ceredigion specifically. There's a fictional local paper which has been shown a couple of times, which I'm sure the Cambrian News wasn't too happy about.
It was mentioned somewhere where the external shots of the gorsaf heddlu were taken - the interiors are at the local rugby club, and the club secretary Mansel Beechey occasionally pops up as one of the uniformed plismyn.
They often/usually fictionalise local newspapers unless it's ITV/Sky and they'd arranged promotional placement. Similarly they probably worry about criticism about reflecting badly on a local force if they use the real name - especially simce the story-line hints at high-level corruption! Even large forces like Greater Manchester are usually fictionalised, but they can't really do that with the Met, or even the fairly recently combined Police Scotland - because that would be plain daft.
The real Thames Valley force is used for Morse/Lewis/Endeavour but it was fictional for Broadchurch, as was the location a combination of West Bay, Burton Bradstock, Eype, Lyme Regis and Weston-super-Mere and many others. Interestingly, they created a fictional 'Echo' newspaper but with very similar styling and layout to the real ones in the area.
The real Police Scotland is used for Shetland, but that's an ITV production for the BBC and again it would just seem silly to make one up that covers an entire country.
Maybe with Police forces, it boils down to if it's a big enough force it largely doesn't matter so long as real people aren't implicated in story-lines?
Answering one part of my own question, I noticed when glancing at some clips from the series that they do refer to 'Aber' a few times. So it is set in Aberystwyth.
You had me wondering there - though it would seem odd to identify Borth and Devil's Bridge, but not Aber. As for the dialect, I'll ask some locals when I get a chance, and let you know.
We certainly have a mixture of dialects spoken round here, even in rural areas. I've noticed at choir practice (in the Hafod Hotel, Devil's Bridge), if I ask for help with pronunciation from the person sitting next to me, I might get a different answer from what the musical director wants (e.g. dawnsio with an 's' sound vs. 'sh'; wyneb as wee-neb vs. oy-neb). Whether the makers of Y Gwyll wanted to portray a less mixed community, I don't know.
If you go to kdb119's link - https://www.s4c.co.uk/ygwyll/c_index.shtml - and look at the clip with Aneurin Hughes (top row of clips, middle clip when I looked at it), who plays the Prif Arolygydd Prosser character, he is a native of the area.
Examples: he says ffor' for ffordd, mâ for mae, giâ for gaeaf, gymint for gymaint, gwitho for gweithio, câl/ciâl for cael, falle for efallai, ithe for eithaf, ishe for eisiau, mlân for ymlaen, fe/e for 'he', ...
The -iâ-or -iê- sound for-ae- seems to be common in parts of mid-Wales. So is -e- for -a- as in bech for bach, den ni for dyn ni, ne for na, de for da, etc.
Comparing the SC4 Welsh-only clips and trailers with the bilingual versions, I thought, perhaps, that Richard Harrington (the actor) plays DCI Tom Mathias (the character) with slightly different personalites. In the Welsh-language version he seems more animated and possibly more angry, at times. In the bilinguage version he seems slightly more restrained and calm - not happy, mind. I was wondering if anyone else noticed this and had a similar impression or whether I was just imagining it?
I understand that in real life fluent bilingual speakers may express slightly different personalities in the different languages; although I wonder whether this is just an extension of what almost everyone experiences where their personalities change slightly when they are with different groups.
Those who did get to see the series and enjoyed it may be interested to know that according to Wikipedia:
A third series of the show began filming in January 2016.
I earlier mentioned in passing the UK Welsh language TV channel S4C. For those curious or interested, details can be found on their website:
In English: http://www.s4c.cymru/abouts4c/e_index.shtml
In Welsh: http://www.s4c.cymru/abouts4c/c_index.shtml
The S4C website for Y Gwyll along with trailers and clips of the series (mostly entirely in Welsh) plus interviews with the cast can be found here:
In English: https://www.s4c.co.uk/ygwyll/e_index.shtml
The bilingual equivalents can be found on the BBC website for the series:
If these are geo-blocked for you, many clips are available on YouTube by searching for 'Y Gwyll' for the Welsh language version or 'Hinterland' for the bilingual version.
Viewers able to receive BBC TV may well have noticed the trailers for 'Hinterland' series 2, 'Coming soon' to BBC Four. This will be the (mostly) English language version with some passages in Welsh with English subtitles.
For any interested, the third series of Y Gwyll will be broadcast on S4C starting 9pm on Sunday, 30th October (2016). There is actually a countdown clock on their website: http://www.s4c.cymru/en/drama/y-gwyll/. You can also set a calendar reminder from there, or directly from here: https://s4c-en.calreply.net. It looks like it will comprise four 120 minute stories broadcast as eight hourly episodes, one per week.
This is the Welsh language version. The bilingual version will be shown sometime later in the year (or possibly next year) on BBC Four as Hinterland.
S4C is available within the UK outside Wales on Freesat channel 120 (channel 104 within Wales). A complete list of channel numbers from other providers such as $ky is given at the bottom of the page of the first link above.
I noticed after my first attempted post that the reminders set by the website set eight weekly hourly episode events. Looking more closely, it seems each episode is split into two parts of an hour duration. So the four 'stories' are split across eight weeks. So I've amended this to reflect my current understanding. Apologies for any confusion caused to anyone reading my initial attempt.
I imagine you mean on disc or streaming?
When I watched it on S4C via Freesat it had both English and Welsh subtitles. Sadly, it was shown too long ago to see it on iPlayer now. Programmes usually remain available for four weeks after broadcast on iPlayer, but they are only accessible from within the UK. I don't know if the iPlayer version actually provided (both) subtitles.
The bi-lingual version will be shown on BBC Four sometime this year, I believe, but I so far as I remember from previous series it doesn't include Welsh subtitles. Plus, very little Welsh dialogue is actually spoken.
I'm not sure where you are located and whether UK options are available to you. It is possible, if you are in the US that the bi-lingual version may be shown on BBC America.
The Welsh language version of series 1 (season 1 en-us) is available from Amazon, BUT, it appears from the comments that this has hard-coded, i.e. permanently on-screen, English subtitles, which is not what you wanted, I believe: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/DVD-Blu-ray/Y-Gwyll-Un-Tymor-Hinterland-Season-One/B00KQOBTCI
For series 2 (season 2 en-us): https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/ft7/Hinterland-Season-2-Gwyll-DVD-Richard-Harrington/B01CSGHSNA
The product description for this, states: 'This edition contains English and Welsh language with English subtitles for Welsh Language only. The Welsh language edition 'Y Gwyll Season 2 (Hinterland)' ASIN B01DW7X86U contains English subtitles throughout.'
It doesn't appear to be available in Blu-ray format, unfortunately.
It would appear the only way to get Welsh subtitles (at least at present) would be to record it at time of broadcast from S4C, but to do that you would need to be within the UK, or within surrounding countries within the Astra 28.2 footprint where it is FTA (Free-to-Air) 11036H.
Just to a expand little... So far as I know, the version available for streaming on Netflix (etc) is the English-only version. More than likely with no subtitles, or permanent on-screen subtitles in the language of whichever territory you may be watching.
At first sight this all seems a ridiculous situation, but I think it may be down to licencing rights. I'm largely guessing here, but I think this may be the situation...
Y Gwyll / Hinterland is produced by an independent production company for the SC4 channel and the BBC. Since only S4C shows the Welsh-language version, chances are only the (partially) bi-lingual and English versions are licenced to the BBC. Although S4C is a public service broadcaster it is not part of the BBC and is based more on the model of Channel 4, partially funded by advertising; unlike the BBC (domestic service) which is entirely funded by the licence fee. Indeed the full name of S4C, Sianel Pedwar Cymru tranlates to Channel Four Wales. It used to be funded directly by the UK government, but since 2013 they've made the BBC fund it out of its licence fee to the tune £76m. This is actually a 25% reduction in the channel's budget. Despite being now being largely funded by the BBC, S4C is still an entirely independent company - albeit they collaborate extensively.
The S4C version is actually played out via BBC iPlayer either via the S4C website or (since fairly recently) via iPlayer itself, but this is really just another example of distribution - and cost-savings, since it makes no sense for the BBC to fund S4C to provide a dedicated iPlayer.
S4C is far too small to produce DVD/Blu-ray discs or to sell/distribute its programming abroad, so this is handled by the BBC's commercial arm BBC Worldwide. Incidentally, the reason why most Americans (in particular) frequently believe that all British programmes are produced by the BBC, is that BBC Worldwide handles overseas sales/distrubution for ITV and Channel 4 - Sky also, I think, despite the fact that Sky are fabulously rich compared to the BBC and do everything they can to snatch anything popular from the BBC and other channels.
It then all comes down to economies of scale. The BBC and the original production company probably think there is little return from distributing the Welsh-language version and they already have the overseas rights for the English-only version. Similarly, they probably think there is little market for a Blu-ray version. The popularity of the Welsh course on Duolingo might suggest otherwise, but it is still a very tiny audience/market compared to the UK-wide/English-language market, and that's even supposing that everyone doing the course would wish to watch the programme.
I suspect the only way to get the S4C Welsh-language version with both English and Welsh subtitles distributed would be if a significant number of people lobbied the Welsh Government to request they subsidise it as part of their Welsh language support. One would have thought that making the S4C version available for streaming (in addition to the English version) on Netflix (etc) would have been straightforward and not incur much addition work, but chances are Netflix simply wouldn't want it.
We are watching Hinterland now in the States, thrilled to have found a Welsh show, but so disappointed that it is in English! We came across it on Netflix movie subscription service and thought it would be in Welsh with English subtitles. At least it seems to have been filmed in Wales, but as we’ve never been to Wales, the show makes it look like a sad, bleak place with unsmiling, troubled people where you could get yourself murdered or your modest lodging torched. Yikes! hahahaha! We are planning a trip to see what Wales is really like, and thank you for explaining what is available. I will try to track down the Welsh version of the series.