Mar 4, 2010

‘Best television material lies forgotten in dusty vaults’, says top TV producer

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Television producer and director Richard Lewis, whose autobiography Out of the Valley is published by Y Lolfa this week, cares little for the seamingly endless reality TV and soap opera offerings laid before television audiences these days. This self-proclaimed ‘media man’ indeed watches very little television and his written reminiscences of a ‘golden age’ in broadcasting give us clues as to why.

With the Welsh television industry lurching from one crisis cut-back to another, Richard Lewis’ recollections are a timely reminder of an era long since gone, when the pioneering spirit spawned initiative, idealism and enterprise, with results which were obvious in the quality of programming on our television screens.

But this is a man who is now rather disillusioned with the television industry. He says, ‘I occasionally watch television, carefully pre-selected and, preferably, pre-recorded. I have come to the conclusion that television is very much a creature of its time and even the best archives tend to lie forgotten in dusty vaults.’

Richard Lewis, who was born in Ton Pentre, Rhondda trained with the BBC and in his book, he takes us on his and the BBC’s journey of discovery in Wales during the 1960s and beyond, and through to the day in November 1988 when he walked out of the BBC as its Head of General Programmes after nearly 30 years of service. Amongst his many achievements at the Beeb were UK Network productions such as Dylan, Nye, The Extremist, Babylon Bypassed and The Fasting Girl. After then joining an independent television company, he oversaw the production of classic drama series such as Y Palmant Aur, Halen yn y Gwaed and the BAFTA award winning Nel on S4C.

Now retired, Richard Lewis shares his time between Llandaff and the South of France. His autobiography Out of the Valley will be published on the 11th of March 2010 by Y Lolfa, priced at £8.95.

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