Fflur Dafydd’s art crime thriller Yr Amgueddfa is returning to S4C on Boxing Day.
Nia Roberts returns as Della – she has had a secondment from her role as director of the National Museum Cardiff after the events of the first series. She now runs a museum in a rural town and is living with her partner Caleb (Steffan Cennydd) in a rambling old house which is totally different from her luxurious house in Cardiff.
The entire series boxset will available to view on S4C Clic, as well as weekly episodes on S4C.
There’s a new Welsh-language crime drama starting on S4C tonight (Sunday 2nd October), called Dal y Mellt. Demonstrating the breadth of material coming out of Wales in the crime drama genre, it’s something a bit different.
So what’s it all about?
It’s been adapted from a novel
Dal y Mellt is an adaptation of the novel of the same name. Its author – who also adapted the script and co-produced, actor and performer Iwan ‘Iwcs’ Roberts said: “People have compared the series to Peaky Blinders or Guy Ritchie’s work, but I don’t think it’s like anything you’ve seen before. It’s like lightning. It’s fierce, witty and gripping.”
What’s it about?
We follow the troubled story of the main character, Carbo, and accompany him on an exciting and entertaining journey as he is drawn into a world of wrongdoing, lies, secrets and heartbreak.
Who’s in it?
There are some familiar names in Dal y Mellt. The cast is led by Keeping Faith’s Mark Lewis Jones, and look out for Gwïon Morris Jones, Dyfan Roberts, Lois Meleri-Jones (who we’ve seen in Craith/Hidden before), Graham Land, Siw Hughes, Ali Yassine and Owen Arwyn.
What does Dal y Mellt mean?
Dal y Mellt in the English means Catch The Lightning, which seems to sum up this heist caper perfectly!
Where can you watch it?
It will be released episodically by S4C (which you can watch on iPlayer with subtitles) every week. However, you can watch the whole series on S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer after the first episode.
S4C’s latest Welsh-language crime drama, Y Golau, has been – so far – an excellent watch, full of subtleties, an intriguing plot and a compelling whodunit.
As ever with these things, the final episode of any crime series is important – for the characters to get closure (and boy, do Sharon and Joe and everyone else deserve closure), and for us, the audience, to get a satisfactory ending. So it was all eyes on pennod six to see if the Regina Moriarty could land this story smoothly.
And, for the most part she did and, in keeping with the rest of the series, really focused on the emotions of the characters as she tied things up. In fact, I was emotional as the final scenes played out, dismayed and upset for a life lost needlessly, and a life unfulfilled.
With any kind of cold case, it’s important to acknowledge that we as an audience need flashbacks in order to see what really happened. It’s just when and how they’re used that’s tricky part, but here, in episode six, they were used expertly and for maximum impact.
To begin with we saw what happened inside the Roberts household the day Ela disappeared. As a (very) young Greta sat on the stairs, Ela heard mum Sharon and partner Gafyn arguing downstairs. As she rushed down, she heard Gafyn accuse Sharon of having an affair, to which it seemed Sharon had no comeback. As Ela stormed in and screamed at her, she reflexively slapped her, causing the teen to run off.
That was the first part. The rest of the episode saw the cast of characters simmer somewhat, perhaps knowing subconsciously that a reckoning was edging ever closer – Nina and Izzy Vaughan were uneasy in their country pad, especially when Joe turned up and demanded to know the truth; Caryn and Cat held clear-the-air-talks after the former had defaced the latter’s apartment and quite obviously still had an axe to grind against the journalist; and Joe himself, hiding in his (now late) father’s house, confronting all sorts of demons.
Let’s face it, we knew that Nina and Izzy were central to the mystery of Ela’s disappearance as soon as they were introduced quite late in the story, and so they proved.
After he visited the Vaughans, Joe ended up trudging into the same woods where Ela disappeared (situated behind the Vaughan house) to try to remember what was really happened. Izzy, on edge and having enough of the charades, soon followed. As did Cat Donato.
And then we were told what happened.
Izzy, a flirtatious and playful teen, had been toying with staff member Joe all those years ago. So when a distressed Ela came around seeking a shoulder to cry on after the confrontation with her mother– Ela and Izzy were in a star cross’d relationship of sorts – Izzy told her that Joe had rubbed himself against her.
Absolutely enraged, Ela stormed into the woods and to Joe’s caravan to have it out with him. After a brief struggle (which determined that Joe had NOT killed Ela, although for a brief moment it looked as though he had, which was a neat bit of writing) Ela walked out only to be told by Izzy that her story about Joe was a joke. And then the real struggle – between Ela and Izzy – took place. Ela had stabbed Izzy in the shoulder (hence the scar we saw there in episode five) and she, in turn, pushed her backwards causing Ela to fall and (what looked like) smash her head on a rock.
A life gone in the blink of an eye.
On hand was Wyn, who offered his help to the then-present Nina. The three of them conspired to cover up the crime and blame poor Joe.
Two lives lost in the blink of an eye.
(I’m still undecided whether an unmotivated killing is as terrifying as one that is premeditated… the sadness of it all, and the fact that something awful can happen so quickly.)
Was this a plausible reason for what happened? I thought so. There was no super-huge twist here, but it took its time to explain what really happened to the three central characters at the heart of the mystery, just like the series had taken its time to introduce and flesh out the characters and their motivations and emotions – Sharon, Cat Donato, Caryn…
The only character I felt I didn’t really know was Cat Donato. In this episode, Caryn had repeatedly told her that she had been a bitch to Ela and to everyone else, and Sharon had more or less told her the same, finally handing over Ela’s diary and imploring her to make it up to her daughter. But we were never really told why Cat was such a ‘bitch’ back in the day.
And that – and perhaps the non-use of Ela’s diary to look for clues until this episode – was perhaps the only slight qualm I had with this series. It was well written, superbly acted (what else do you expect from Joanna Scanlan?), incredibly consistent and nicely paced, taking its time but also sprinkling in a twist or two just when we needed it. And we also got the tease that Cat Donato is now intent on becoming a private detective, which I am very much here for if ever the writers want to make that series.
So another success for S4C, and the country’s acting talent. I just love the fact that the gang of actors we see time and time again in Welsh-language series are like a repertory company – Sian Reese-Williams, Hannah Daniel, Annes Elwy, Aneirin Hughes, Delyth Wyn… they’re all really good actors, this time supplemented by award-winners and global names like the aforementioned Jo Scanlan, Alexandra Roach and Iwan Rheon. All terrific.
In the end though, Y Golau was a tale about real people experiencing grief, trauma and guilt, all trying to make sense of shattered memories. An effective murder mystery, yes, but a sensitively-told study of the lives we lead with authentic and credible details, like Sharon’s light switch in the hall. We – and she – now knows what happens when you turn it off.
After episode four’s escalation in drama – specifically, some key reveals right at the end of the instalment – I couldn’t wait to tuck into the penultimate episode to see where this story went next.
And yes, there was plenty of fall-out and a continuation of the story. But it went about it all in a very Y Golau sort of way – sensitively, non-sensationally and at its own pace.
And that is to be applauded. This series is staying true to itself not getting away from what it’s really about – grief, redemption and how people move on from trauma.
Both Sharon and Joe Pritchard are in the hospital after the latter saved the former from the fire at her home. Naturally, the family thought that Joe was responsible, despite Cat Donato’s testimony that she was with him and saw exactly what he had done. This was an interesting plot twist, insofar that the man who Sharon thinks killed her daughter
Is now a potential ally. This was always on the cards, especially now it looks increasingly likely that Joe did not kill Ela. We’ve seen this before, but it’s still an interesting counterpoint and an emotional table-turner for Sharon. It’s been handled well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these two become closer before the series is out (as long as Joe didn’t kill Ela, that is).
So we’re approaching whodunit territory here, especially by the end of the episode, where a number of suspects had been set-up.
But before that, we saw Shelley on the scene for the first time since Ela disappeared. Her little gatecrash at her father Wyn’s retirement party was already doing the rounds on local social media, but her focus was on Joe – brother and sister had some catching up to do. And certainly, her presence and re-emergence triggered some memories from Joe. Namely that Ela was still alive when he was approaching the caravan.
As for Wyn, he found himself in a world of deep do-do. Now revealed to be a historic abuser of his daughter, the question – from everyone, but certainly from Cat – was whether he had been responsible for more cases of abuse… namely Ela. The episode ended with a touching scene when he said goodbye to his dogs for the last time, gave Cat a ring (intimating that this object held the truth to the whole tale) and then shot himself in Nina Vaughan’s office.
With the final shot of the episode showing Vaughan’s daughter Izzy standing in the mirror looking at a scar on her body (after talking to her mother about the Joe Pritchard case), there’s something definitely going on there. And what about Caryn, revealed to be the phantom graffiti person in Cat’s apartment.
During episode three of this intriguing, excellent and very human crime drama, there was a moment that really encapsulated what this show is all about – the details in grief.
During an argument with Gafyn, he turned off Sharon’s hallway light. Sharon went berserk and told her ex that she had not turned off that light since Ela had disappeared. The very act of turning off that light was something momentous, something that signified turning off her search for Ela. And, of course, this series is called Y Golau, which translates in English to The Light. Remember also that the original title for this series was called The Light In The Hall.
There may be something in this light – some extra significance – there maybe not.
If the turning off of that light had any metaphorical value for Sharon, you wouldn’t have known it in these two episodes. After another visit from journalist Cat Donato – which, again, didn’t go well – she redoubled her efforts to find out the truth from Joe Pritchard, by foul means or fair. She not only enlisted shady Ian once again, but handed over Greta’s wedding money to boot, in order for Ian’s goons to beat the information out of Joe.
But something was shifting in these two episodes – secrets were slowly beginning to come out. We found out more about Joe and his relationship with his overbearing, gruff father Wyn (it wasn’t good), and Cat and Caryn, two teenagers and former friends of Ela, were revealed to have been not very nice at all to their disappeared friend.
We were also introduced to two new characters – local councillor Nina Vaughan and her (pregnant) daughter Isabel. Cat found out that Joe once worked for Vaughan, who is now running for a high-ranking position and in the middle of canvassing voters. Not only does Nina Vaughan have a handy line in passive-aggressiveness, but links with Joe’s father Wyn were also revealed.
Once again, this was all bubbling away nicely. But what of Joe Pritchard himself? Beaten to pulp, he eventually turned up at Cat’s house, and observed with her the damage that had been done by a vandal. Still bloodied by his ordeal, she let him clean himself up and observe the board she had constructed to help her along with her investigation. And this, of course, triggered Joe – he remembered that his father had been in the woods when Ela had disappeared.
This triggered a frantic end to episode four – Joe and Cat went to Sharon’s to confront her, and they found the house on fire; and Wyn, at a fancy retirement do in front of his farming pals (including Nina Vaughan) got the shock of his life when Shelley (who had disappeared from the town after Ela had died, never to return) stormed in and seemed to imply that Wyn had abused her when she was a child.
It was quite an ending and just the injection of drama and explosiveness the series needed. There has been some clever writing so far, and this elevation is yet another example of it. Consequently, Y Golau is nicely paced, well played and concerned with the details.
The opening episode of Y Golau (The Light), the latest Welsh-language cab off the S4C rank was an intriguing, beautifully-played drama about a woman still struggling to come to terms with the murder of her daughter Ela 18 years before. Her grief was not only poignantly portrayed but also amplified thanks to the return of her (supposed) killer Joe Pritchard, who was released from prison after almost two decades.
Another returnee – journalist and self-proclaimed friend of Ela, Cat Donato – was also sniffing around the case, sensing that the terrible story from her childhood was an opportunity to make a journalistic name for herself in the present day.
In this second episode, we saw more of Cat and a gentle drip-feed of information when it came to Ela’s disappearance.
The first scene was fairly electric. Sharon (played by the always excellent Joanna Scanlan) confronted Pritchard outside his hostel, but despite her pleas, he stonewalled her and told her that he couldn’t help. In return, she promised to make his life hell.
Following on from that scene, the themes in this episode seemed to be difficult first meetings and how people realise they need each other.
We saw Cat try to ingratiate herself with the residents of Llanemlyn. Fresh from getting the cold shoulder from Pritchard, Sharon turned the tables and cold-shouldered Cat, revealing that the journalist wasn’t quite the friend of Ela’s that she made out.
A little crestfallen but undeterred, Cat met with old friend Caryn (Craith favourite, Sian Reese-Williams) and got some joy from the detective who worked the original case. He told her that Pritchard did not know Ela at all, but she had been spotted in town looking distressed on that fateful day and then later on the Pritchard’s farm itself. In fact, Pritchard’s own father had telephoned the police on the day of her disappearance to say that he had spotted her on his land.
The detective also revealed a bit more about the case – that Ela’s blood was found in the caravan.
By the end of the episode, both Sharon AND Pritchard had decided to open up to Cat – both realising that to relieve the pressure each was feeling, they needed her as much as she needed them. This dynamic was clever and interesting and and led to an edge-of-your-seat scene featuring Pritchard and Cat, who had agreed to take him to a job interview in return for an interview. Demanding she stop the car because he was starting to freak out at the very mention of Ela and the day she disappeared, their conversation continued in the woods – it felt for all the world that he was covering for someone, or at least blocking out the events in the caravan.
Whether Cat will end up bringing them together and helping to heal wounds remains to be seen. But one thing is certain – the character of Cat is an interesting device. She’s part expositional conduit, part amateur detective. And something tells me that she’ll end up going on a proper journey of redemption, too, where she has to face down the ghosts – and conduct – of her own past.
Pritchard’s reintegration into society was also interesting to watch, not least because he was being preyed on by fellow hostel dweller Ian. This slimeball had overheard Sharon and Pritchard’s conversation in the street, and saw an opportunity – he told Sharon that (for money) he was willing to help and get her the answers she was looking for. Thankfully, it backfired on him, but this strand did give the episode real tension.
Elsewhere, we saw Greta prepare for her forthcoming wedding and Sharon carted off by the police for harassing Pritchard once too often.
However, the real surprise came at the end of the episode when we saw a woman – sitting at a desk with her back to camera – use a German-language search engine to look for Joe Pritchard news stories online. Could this be Ela?
As regular readers of this website will know, I’m a big fan of S4C’s Welsh-language dramas. Over the years, we’ve had the likes of Y Gwyll/Hinterland, Craith/Hidden, Yr Amgeuddfa/The Museum… the list goes on. So far, the channel’s output has fallen into two camps – the slow, thoughtful procedurals of Y Gwyll and Craith (heavy on emotion and social commentary, with an almost spaghetti western pace), and the high-concept, contemporary stylings of Yr Amgueddfa.
Besides the cast, the first thing you see and feel with Y Golau (The Light), is the pacing – it’s definitely more in line with Y Gwyll and Craith in that respect, even though showrunner of the aforementioned shows – Ed Talfan – is not involved in this six-part series.
But while we’re here let’s talk about the cast, because it really is tremendous. Recent BAFTA winner Joanna Scanlan takes the lead role of Sharon – a middle-aged mum who is still coming to terms with the disappearance and supposed death of her 15-year-old daughter, Ela, 18 years ago. The man who has been doing time for this crime – and has indeed admitted to killing her – is Joe Pritchard, played by Iwan Rheon (a global name thanks to Game Of Thrones). We see him in this opening episode tortured by flickering of memories of that fateful day as he sits before a parole board, awaiting its verdict.
There’s one problem – although he admits killing Ela, due to an amnesia condition he can’t tell anyone (not least himself) what he did or where he hid the body.
In the middle of all this trauma, grief and heartache is Sharon’s other daughter Greta, who still lives at home with her mum. Together they’ve recovered as best they can, help others who have experienced the same kind of losses they’ve experienced and are trying to carry on and live their lives.
But of course, before Ela’s body has never been found there has been no closure. Without a body they can’t say goodbye, or give Ela the send-off she deserves.
Also skirting the story is journalist Cat Donato (the always excellent Alexandra Roach), who’s after a meaty story to reinvigorate her career. As is the way of this world, she wants to write a true crime story, but the one subject matter that’s staring her in the face she doesn’t want to take on – she was one of Ela’s best friends at the time of her disappearance.
But when Pritchard is released from jail, Cat decides to confront those memories from the past and takes a trip back to her home town of Llanemlyn to try and persuade Pritchard – now in a halfway house – to give her the big interview. Also converging on the safe house is Sharon, who is still – after all these years – desperate for answers.
It’s a fine, intriguing premise that’s just ripe for good drama, and it’s beautifully played. Episode one – like some of its S4C predecessors – doesn’t go for the jugular like other shows on other channels perhaps would but instead takes its time to really explore Sharon’s grief and horror that the man who killed her daughter is now free. There are moments in this first episode when Sharon walks around her empty house that are genuinely affecting – she can still sense, see, her daughter from years gone in a shard of sunlight through the window, still desperate to retain that contact with her; still desperate to feel the connection. As you would expect, Joanna Scanlan is just terrific in these scenes, showcasing the range and the kind of believability and naturalism that has finally gained her the plaudits she deserves, and has deserved for many years.
So where is this going? There’s a sense – thanks to something Greta said in passing – that Ela may not be dead, and she still keeps her sister’s diary hidden from everyone. Does she know something about Ela that we don’t? And what of Cat’s investigation into the case and Pritchard’s assimilation back into society? You get the sense some buried secrets are about to be uncovered.
A strong first episode.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Y Golau is available to watch on S4C Clic or BBC iPlayer
S4C has announced the transmission date for its next Welsh-language series – Y Golau (The Light).
Not only is it a tense thriller, but it boasts the cream of Welsh acting talent, including recent BAFTA winner Joanna Scanlan and Game Of The Thrones star, Iwan Rheon, and Alexandra Roach in the lead roles.
Sharon Roberts (Scanlan) has never stopped grieving the loss of her daughter, Ela. Joe Pritchard (Rheon), a quiet, unassuming gardener, was arrested for Ela’s murder after her DNA was found at his caravan.
Joe confessed to killing Ela but wouldn’t, or couldn’t, say why or what he did with her body.
Journalist Cat Donato (Roach), originally from the same town as Ela, has always been obsessed by her murder. Ela had been part of her circle of friends but prior to her murder Ela had been ostracised over a silly teenage squabble, a fact that Cat has tried her best to forget.
The news of Joe’s parole hearing and the prospect of his release causes both women to confront the past and the part they played in Ela’s final days.
With so many questions unanswered, Joe’s return to the community could be a way to get to the bottom of the mystery once and for all. If Joe Pritchard did kill Ela, why did he do it, and where is the body?
The cast also includes Hannah Daniel, Siân Reese-Williams and Annes Elwy.
An English-language version will be broadcast on Channel 4 at a later date.
The BBC has announced a new six-part crime drama – Wolf – to be produced by the makers of Sherlock, Hartswood Films. It’s based on one of the Jack Caffery novels written by the late, great Mo Hayder, who tragically passed away in 2021.
Furthermore, one of its stars is Killing Times favourite, Sian Reese-Williams.
DI Jack Caffery (Ukweli Roach) is a young man searching for himself. Obsessed with the neighbour he believes murdered his 10-year-old brother in the 90s, Jack finds himself trying to right the wrongs of others – but at what cost? In an isolated house in Monmouthshire, the wealthy Anchor-Ferrers family find themselves the victims of a psychopath’s cruel games, trapped and terrorised. When the two narratives collide, it’s a thrilling, nail-biting and deeply disturbing race against time.
Also joining the ensemble cast are Sacha Dhawan as Honey, Iwan Rheon as Molina, mismatched professionals forced together on a job; Sian Reese-Williams as DI Maia Lincoln, a woman with a case to prove; Juliet Stevenson as Matilda Anchor-Ferrers, an intelligent yet neurotic housewife, and Owen Teale as Oliver Anchor-Ferrers, Matilda’s wealthy and well-connected husband.
The BBC says the series has already started filming in Wales.