Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (2024)

Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (1)

Hinterland: "A lot of people I've met abroad didn’t even known that Wales has its own language." Photo via BBC; photo courtesy of Josh

S4C is the only Welsh language channel accessible on television. For a long time, its best-known show was probably the soap opera Pobol y Cwm, but after a 39-year run it was finally unseated in 2013 by noir police drama Y Gwyll (The Dusk).Dubbed "Celtic noir" for its similarities to so-called Scandi noirs like The Killing and The Bridge – which aired around the same time and featured similarly dark themes – Y Gwyll fed into the UK's fresh appetite for psychologically unsettling crime dramas in a rural setting.

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The show's immediate success took it to BBC One Wales, where it was aired bilingually under the name Hinterland and became the first BBC drama to feature dialogue in both English and Welsh. It was also aired in Welsh by broadcasters in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Slovenia, before being picked up by Netflix and served to US audiences.

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When filmed, Hinterland recorded each scene twice – once in Welsh and once in English – and although the two versions are identical, Welsh speakers have differing views on which has more impact for representing Welsh culture. Ultimately, though, it was the first in what would be a long line of Welsh language dramas – paving the way for more stories to be told in Wales, about Wales, and quite literally in our own words.

JOSH, 26

Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (3)

Photo courtesy of Josh

I think Hinterland represented the Welsh language well to European countries. A lot of people I've met abroad didn’t even known that Wales has its own language, so I think it's important to show this to an international audience. The fact that the show used some 'Wenglish' (a use of English words while speaking Welsh) was also realistic as I find that's the way most people speak Welsh.

RAE, 21

Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (4)

Photo courtesy of Rae (right)

I started watching Hinterland with my parents, who are not Welsh speaking and found myself translating things that they missed, just from how quickly the actors spoke. Although the Welsh I was taught in school was slightly different to the one on the show (I'm from south Wales and certain words vary), I believe it represents the language accurately. It had enough Welsh laced throughout to keep the feeling of being truly Welsh but also had nice breaks of English for those who may not speak it to follow along without trying too hard. All in all I believe it represented the Welsh language in a realistic but still poetic way.

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LEIGH, 30

Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (5)

Photo courtesy of Leigh

As a Welsh speaker, any representation of our language and culture that reaches beyond our borders is brilliant to me. As well as outside of Wales, there are even Welsh people who don't realise how widely spoken the language is day-to-day in parts of our country. The fact that this presents this side of life in Wales is great. In the English language version of the show, the switching of languages between characters depending on who they speak to is a very realistic portrayal of life in Wales.

HYWEL, 25

Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (6)

Photo courtesy of Hywel (left)

To an extent, Hinterland does a good job of representing the Welsh language internationally, but not as much as I think it could do. Shooting a separate Welsh version means there's less pressure to include the language in the English version.

MICHELLE, 34

Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (7)

As a Welsh person living in England, Hinterland helped me rediscover my Welsh identity. Seeing the Salem portrait, the legend of the Devil's Bridge, and hearing compelling, contemporary stories about Wales was an incredible new experience. Being able to talk to my friends about Hinterland in conversations similar to how we speak about Scandi dramas like The Killing was genuinely thrilling.

MORGAN, 19

Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (8)

Personally I think the show does Welsh culture a fantastic service, in particular to the way it merges Welsh and English together, so as to make it seem very naturally conversational in everyday lives for most people as it is in reality. I've always loved the show, having first seen it on S4C. I introduced it to my family and they also started watching and loving it. We still watch it occasionally, because of the beauty with which the show is written – combining the harsh rugged terrain of Ceredigion and how that ruggedness is reflected in the people who live there, as well as the way it is conveyed through the use of the Welsh language.Hinterland has reached out to many audiences across the world, and in my opinion that it does bring a focal point to how the Welsh language is used and spoken [in Wales]. As far as shows go, it tops my list every time.CLICK HERE TO READ VICE'S 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF THE CENTURY SO FAR.@GINATONIC

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Welsh Speakers On 'Hinterland' and the Importance of Hearing Welsh on TV (2024)

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