Welsh telly is a myriad of peculiar, colloquial comedies, scandalous soap storylines and reality TV and documentary moments which have us either putting our heads in our hands or nodding along in agreement. But we’ve also made great universally-loved series, like Gavin & Stacey, sci-fi action classics like Torchwood and Doctor Who and produced underrated comedy icons like Ruth Madoc, Margaret Johns and Mrs Mainwaring from Aberavon.
Nowadays, we see way more Welsh representation daily on national TV with the likes of Alex Jones constantly bringing pure Welsh warmth to her interviews every night on The One Show, Mark Lewis Jones starring in every high profile drama going and Eve Myles keeping both Faith and her accent on screen.
This list is full of crackers from newer shows and classics from the past few decades which stand out and we love. From bloopers and cliffhangers here are the best moments of Welsh TV that we’ve enjoyed, hopefully you have too.
1. That proposal in Gavin & Stacey
We couldn’t leave Gavin & Stacey out of the list and one of its biggest moments came in the 2019 Christmas special when Nessa (Ruth Jones) got down on one knee and popped the question to Smithy (James Corden). And then it was fade to black, leaving fans absolutely fumin’.
2. ‘Is it any good?’ – Aberavon’s biggest fan
This is the brilliant moment a TV presenter and wonder sports woman, Non Evans interviewed an elderly Welsh rugby fan who couldn’t quite remember not to talk at the end of the segment. The video, from the late 1990s, shows Non interviewing the woman at Aberavon Rugby Club.
In it, the woman – a legendary supporter known only as Mrs Mainwaring – gives enthusiastic answers to Non’s questions, but at the end of each take she asks ‘any good?’, forcing Non to retake the interview several times. It was filmed by Sports Media Services Ltd in the late 1990s and was shown later on the BBC’s Outtakes programme.
3. WOAH WOAH WOAH!
She was one of the first ‘reality TV’ stars and Driving School’s Maureen Rees, along with her husband Dave, put the nation on the edge of their seats with her terrible driving. Poor Dave must have had nerves of steel as evidenced by one of the most famous clips from the show, when Mo drifts in front of another driver on a Cardiff bypass – we can still hear him ‘woah-ing’ now. Since Driving School in 1997, Mo did alright for herself telly-wise, appearing on This is Your Life, TV show Back to Reality and she even released a single, a cover of Madness’ Driving in My Car. More on Mo, here.
4. The Welsh language heard by billions on Netflix’s The Crown
While the storylines on The Crown might not be 100% accurate, series three’s episode Tywysog Cymru, did showcase Aberystwyth, Caernarfon and meant that many, many people around the globe heard Welsh being spoken. Okay, maybe the bits with Prince Charles (played by Josh O’Connor) weren’t all too hot, but we saw Dr Tedi Millward (Mark Lewis Jones) teaching the future king. Dr Millward jointly founded Cymdeithas yr Iaith and was Vice President of Plaid Cymru.
5. Torchwood’s Gwen flattens CIA Agent
There were many parts of Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood, which we could have picked, Jack’s love of Ianto and his untimely death, Owen and Toshiko’s goodbye (more dying) but we like this from Gwen Cooper aka Eve Myles, totally kicking the butt of a double-crossing CIA agent who mistakes her for being ‘the best England has to offer.’
Gwen says ‘I’m Welsh’ and pow. Goodnight Vienna.
6. Hywel and Stacey’s scandalous affair is uncovered
Cor blimey, this caused a ruckus back in the mid-1990s. Spirited student Stacey Jones (Shelley Jones) and her teacher Hywel Llywelyn (Andrew Teilo) embarked on a torrid affair and eventually got married, but not before actress Shelley received some miffed letters from some teachers!
7. It’s a Sin’s Colin’s devastating AIDS diagnosis
It’s a struggle to even think about this one such is the subject matter and the heartwrenching performance from Rhondda’s Callum Scott Howells as Colin, a young Welsh man who contracts HIV in Russell T Davies’ It’s a Sin . The performance by Howells has won him awards and the moment itself is up for a most memorable TV moments of the past year at next month’s Baftas.
8. Windsor Davies in a bath of jelly
The late, great Windsor Davies may be best known for Grand Slam’s Mog Jones, and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’s Battery Sergeant Major Williams but it’s this weird and wonderful appearance in 1990s comedy, Sean’s Show which sticks out to many. He was appearing with another late funnyman, Sean Hughes and the pair ended up naked in a bath of jelly. What can you say?
9. Dai Jones Llanilar’s hilarious inability to stay upright
The Welsh TV presenter was an icon thanks to S4C’s Cefn Gwlad, which he presented for more than 35 years, and he was loved for his knowledge, his ability to make people feel at ease and, of course, his frequent stumbles and bloopers. The 78-year-old died in March 2022, but his memory lives on…
10. ‘I love blinking’
Helen Adams made half of the country go ‘uh?’ and the other half go ‘me too’ with her famous declaration of her favourite pastime. 21 years after her appearance on Big Brother the Cwmbran hairdresser is still hairdressing and still blinking, we imagine.
11. Welsh footy fan takes a tumble
This is a cracker of a news blooper, mind. Following Wales’ Euro 2020 victory against Turkey in Baku one fan was overcome with excitement that he tumbled down some pub steps on an S4C news report, legs almost akimbo and then hobbled back up and inside.
12. Lunatics around yuh mun!
This wholesome TV moment was from Valleys Cops, a BBC Wales show from a few years back and saw this chap chasing after a speeding van shouting “I will punch ‘ew head in son!” While his intentions came from a good place, the lack of irony of calling the speeder a lunatic was a beautiful TV moment.
13. Any time Gladys Pugh said ‘Morning campers!’
The foxy, sassy, pixie-cut adorned Maplins Yellowcoat of Hi-De-Hi played by Ruth Madoc was, along with Windsor Davies’ Battery Sergeant Major Williams, was one of the few Welsh accents we heard on network telly and there’s nothing that will take you back to a Sunday in the ’80s eating jam sarnies like hearing ‘bing, bong, bing, morning campers’.
14. The Mr Brightside sing-a-long on The Call Centre
It was the moment we all realised Nev Wilshire wasn’t your average boss. The late businessman strongly believed that happy call centre staff were more successful at their jobs – and that one of the key things to happiness was singing. In one scene, Nev attempted to motivate his entire staff by singing Mr Brightside by The Killers – and got them to join in.
15. Margaret John spouting pure filth
Whether it was as High Hopes’ Elsie Hepplewhite talking about her favourite sexual positions or Doris on Gavin and Stacey lustily pursuing any young man who crossed her path, Margaret John delivered her sauciness with such innocent-sounding, nana voiced aplomb, you can’t help but laugh.
16. Rob and Luke’s bench scene from Stella
On the face of it Stella’s thought of as a tidy, valleys comedy, but, as with so much of Ruth Jones’ writing, it’s the heart-wrenching scenes that really elevate any show she’s written. The scene where Rob (Mark Lewis Jones) and his son Luke (Craig Gallivan) have a heart to heart on the mountainside bench as the younger man faces up to his gambling addiction, is as good a performance, and emotional to boot, as any out-and-out drama.
17. Gareth Thomas v Eddie Butler on Scrum V
This was a hell of a chapter in Welsh TV, as well as Welsh rugby. Viewers will never forget the Sunday night when Wales skipper Gareth Thomas locked horns with one of his predecessors in the job Eddie Butler, by then a TV commentator and pundit, over the departure of Mike Ruddock, back in 2006. Read the full story (and argument!) here.
18. Gavin Henson’s topless paso on Strictly
We mean…. there’s not much more to add really. Fair play, the boy’s not shy is he? Back in 2010 Grand Slam winner Gav signed up to Strictly and was in his fake tanned element as he was paired with professional Katya Virshilas. He did alright, though, reaching the semi-finals as he was definitely better at ballroom than Latin.