Swansea University Professor consults on major new BBC series and engages students about the history of Wales

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Professor Chris Williams, from Swansea University, has consulted on a major new BBC Cymru Wales series – The Story of Wales - the first episode will be broadcast on BBC Wales at 9pm on Monday 27 February 2012.

Presented by Huw Edwards, the six-part series, a collaboration between the Open University (OU) and BBC Cymru Wales, charts the history of Wales from pre-history to modern times. As an academic consultant for the OU, Professor Williams advised on the historical accuracy of the footage and this is the first direct partnership between the OU and BBC Cymru Wales. He features in programme 5 (to be broadcast on March 19) talking about the politics of the Welsh coalfields.

The History Professor has also authored a booklet titled ‘Icons of Wales / Eiconau Cymru' that accompanies the series. Published in English and Welsh, the booklet examines the history of the people of Wales through the eleven statues in Serraveza marble situated in Cardiff’s City Hall.

The Welsh Historical Sculpture was a statement by some of the most powerful figures in Welsh public life to define Wales’s past, present, and future. They choose ten great men (including Dafydd ap Gwilym, Saint David, Owain Glyndwr) and one great woman (Boudicca). The OU booklet examines each of these public figures and their contribution to Wales.

The OU runs a number of courses in Welsh history and it is hoped that this new series, and accompanying booklet, will engage potential students and energise a new audience about the history of Wales.

Alongside the TV series, BBC Radio Wales is also launching a radio series ‘Histories of Wales’. Presented by six historians, each programme will feature a significant theme in Welsh history. Rather than broadcasting a complete chronological history, each episode will represent the academic’s individual angle on their chosen topic; Professor Williams is presenting a 30-minute programme on ‘warfare’. Swansea University’s Chancellor Rhodri Morgan, former First Minister of Wales is also presenting the programme on ‘radicalism’. He will start his examination of this theme by exploring his family’s connections with the Rebecca Riots. His brother, historian Professor Prys Morgan, will be a contributor.

Professor Chris Williams said, “Involvement in the BBC/OU productions has been an opportunity to try to connect with a wide audience interested in the history of Wales. Making television and radio programmes, where everything has to be compressed, explained clearly and the narrative moved on swiftly, is quite a challenge for an academic such as myself who is sometimes tempted to ramble on about topics of esoteric interest. Thankfully these kinds of projects, my Richard Burton work and the RIAH public lecture series all require public consultation and participation and that means that here at Swansea we are producing work that is relevant to the community, but also has valuable research status.”

Professor Chris Williams is Director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, a hub that brings together researchers and postgraduates across the College of Arts and Humanities to create a rich research environment geared towards excellence and public engagement.

Joining Swansea University as Professor of Welsh History in 2005 Chris Williams works mainly on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Wales. His next book will be the Diaries of Richard Burton, which he has edited, to be published by Yale University Press in October 2012.

For those interested in ‘The Story of Wales’ and ‘Histories of Wales’ and accompanying booklet you can find out more by visiting: