TAC interview with Ciron Gruffydd – Gethin Thomas Memorial Prize Winner

7 November 2022


Many congratulations to you Ciron on winning the Gethin Thomas Memorial Prize competition at the Tregaron National Eisteddfod 2022 for composing a comedy script for up to six characters no longer than 30 minutes.  Could you say a little more about what you’ve written?

Thank you!  I wrote the first episode of a situation comedy, ‘Chips’, which is set in a chip shop in a rural Welsh village.  It follows the ups and downs of the owner, Glyn, as he tries to deal with his grief after losing his wife while being drawn into the problems of the various characters who come to the shop to fetch their supper.  The humour is fairly absurd and the situations Glyn finds himself in become more absurd as the episode unfolds but as a backdrop to that, I was also trying to reflect rural life in Wales today.  In the village where the chip shop is located, the school, pub and chapel have closed so Glyn’s shop is now the centre of the community.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve been writing since I can remember dabbling with poetry and prose when I was younger.  But I remember writing a TV sketch for the first time and realising that this is the kind of writing I enjoy the most.  I love dialoguing and bringing characters to life through the way they speak.  Also, the visual side of writing something for TV or film is an entertaining way of illustrating a story rather than telling it, and thinking about that element when creating the work is a lot of fun.

The process of creating something for television is also much more collaborative than prose or poetry.  It takes a small army of people to create the final work with a director, actors, set designer, costume designer and several others putting their own ideas into the mix to bring the idea to life on screen.  That element of co-working and co-creating really appeals to me.

 This isn’t the first time you’ve won a competition for your writing.  You were awarded a place on a training scheme by S4C and It My Shout in 2013.  How did this affect you and how have you developed as a writer since then?

I was very fortunate to have two short films produced by It’s My Shout.  One in English and one in Welsh.  The experience of working on the Welsh one was an amazing experience as myself and the director, Mared Swain, had the opportunity to work with the residents of the village of Senghennydd on the centenary of the worst disaster in the history of the British coal industry to create the film with local people.

I learnt a lot from the experience and have since had the opportunity of working on various television and radio productions.  Children’s programmes such as ‘Ysbyty Hospital’ and ‘Hei Hanes!’, which won a Bafta Cymru award this year; comedy series like ‘LIMBO’ that I created for S4C’s Hansh last year; and the drama series ‘Rownd a Rownd’.

What is the value of writing competitions like this to writers?

Competitions are a great way to practice your craft and an opportunity for criticism that is going to strengthen your work along the way.  It’s an opportunity to write what you want to write without having to think about the boundaries you have to stick to in the real world – like budgets, for example.  If you’re at the start of your career, competitions are also a great way of getting your work seen by people who work in the industry and you never know what opportunities can arise from that.

Thinking about your own experience, what advice would you give to young writers?

Watching as much TV as possible is a good way to study how dramas, film or comedy programmes build a world and use dialogue and visual tricks to draw the viewer in and tell the story in different ways.  Reading scripts is also a great way to see how to format a script correctly and to understand how it reads before filming.

One special resource for writers of all levels is the BBC Writer’s Room.  It advertises competitions, allows anyone to read BBC television and radio programme scripts and includes conversations with writers.

There is also a benefit in going on courses and attending conferences.  These events are a great way of making connections and a good way to learn about different writers’ ways of working.

What projects are you currently working on and where can we see / hear more of your work?

I’m currently working on an online series that will be published by S4C next year.  I can’t say much at the moment but it will be an adult drama series and a big step away from the children’s and comedy projects I’ve been doing recently.  I’m really enjoying the experience, and I hope the viewers will enjoy it too.

Thank you so much Ciron – and once again, many congratulations on winning the Gethin Thomas Memorial Award!

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