IT HAD slate mountains, flowing rivers and a close-knit rural community.
But the BBC’s depiction of North Wales in new drama Framed was missing one vital element – the right accent.
Viewers of the network drama, which aired on BBC One on Monday night, have complained that many of the show’s characters spoke in a softer South Walian accent. But the BBC has insisted it never meant to offend.
Filmed in and around Snowdonia’s Blaenau Ffestiniog, Framed, starring Trevor Eve and Eve Myles, was meant to be set in a fictional sleepy village in North Wales. But there was no sign of the strong North Walian accent, which can often be confused with a Liverpudlian accent when English is spoken, and is more nasal and high-pitched than the South Wales accent when Welsh is spoken.
Angharad Clwyd of the Welsh Language Society said: “It’s typical of the BBC’s laziness that they used a South Wales accent in an area with such a strong North Walian accent. They wouldn’t set a drama in Newcastle and people it with Cockneys would they?”
A viewer commented on the BBC’s website: “The research for this show must have been no more than watching an episode of Gavin & Stacey and How Green Was My Valley.”
Drama teacher Anne Jones of the Props theatre company in Colwyn Bay was outraged at the programme’s disregard for the North Walian accent and argued it was a symptom of the area’s inadequate representation in the TV industry.
“It was dreadful,” she said.
“The accents were South Walian and there was nothing of North Wales at all.
“Everything is centralised in South Wales and very rarely in North Wales, which seems small-minded.
“In the area the programme was meant to be based, the accent would have been a very hard ‘Gog’ accent, rather than the more lyrical accent in other areas. It is nothing like the South Wales accent.
“Some people think North Walians are from Liverpool or Lancashire. The South Walian accent is no more Welsh – it’s influenced by Somerset and Gloucestershire. But (on television) the stereotypical Welshman speaks with that accent.”
The BBC defended its choice of South Walian cast members by claiming they chose the best actors for the show, rather than focusing on accents.
“After an extensive casting search, the children who shone out as the best qualified for the roles both happened to come from South Wales.
“We then took the difficult decision to allow them to concentrate on their performances rather than change their natural accents (very hard for a 10-year old to achieve) and once this decision was made all the other characters fitted into place around the central family.”
She added that the broadcaster’s priority was to do justice to Frank Cottrell Boyce’s novel, on which the series is based.
“We were fully aware of the differences between the North and South Wales accent and never meant to cause offence, but all productions have to be adaptable when working with children,” said the spokeswoman.
“We felt that the priority was to deliver Frank’s enchanting book to BBC One in a manner that celebrated the Welsh landscape, the Welsh vibrancy and the Welsh humour, and strove to be as authentic as we could be, given casting and budget constraints,” she added. “The production team were made extremely welcome when filming on location in Snowdonia and the programme has been very well received.”
Source: Wales Online