Angharad Jones: Television executive and Welsh prose writer


Angharad Jones was the woman behind some of the most popular programmes ever seen on S4C, the fourth television channel in Wales, where from 1996 to 2007 she was Commissioning Editor for Drama and Film.

Among the soap operas she commissioned were Con Passionate, about a male voice choir whose members are in and out of love with their conductor, played by the vivacious classical singer Shan Cothi; Eldra, a tale about a Welsh gypsy girl; and Caerdydd, which took the lid off the steamy affairs of those whose lives revolve around the National Assembly in Cardiff Bay. All had her hallmarks: a gripping storyline, dramatic scenes and racy dialogue. Another soap with a political theme was Llafur Cariad (A Labour of Love) which shone an unflinching light into the murky machinations of those who attempt to climb the greasy pole, often with poignant, even hilarious effects.

After leaving S4C in 2007 she worked as a consultant at the media production company Calon TV, one of the many enterprises which have won for Cardiff a reputation as "Media City". It has made some of the best children's programmes ever, including Superted, Sali Mali and Sam Tân/Fireman Sam. Many of its productions have been made back-to-back, that is to say in both Welsh and English, and have sold widely for dubbing into other languages.

She was widely respected among colleagues and those who control the purse-strings, bringing to her job a bright intelligence, an articulate approach to the industry's problems and a cheerful acceptance of the frustrations attendant on working in a milieu where some pretty monstrous egos are at play.

Her understanding of TV and its requirements began at home, for she was the youngest of the four daughters of Gwyn Erfyl Jones, who spent a lifetime with HTV Wales, latterly as its North Wales representative.

She was also a prose writer of extraordinary talent. In 1984 she won the Crown at the Urdd National Eisteddfod, the youth festival long regarded as a cradle for emerging literary talent, and in 1995 the Literature Medal at the National Eisteddfod, the premier festival of Wales, for a novel published as Y Dylluan Wen (The White Owl), which was later adapted for television. It starred the folk singer Siâ*James, whose vibrant voice gave it a haunting quality well-suited to the original. The words of many of the singer's songs were written by Angharad Jones, who inherited her mother Lisa's musical gifts.

Her debut as a writer was made with a collection of stories and poems, Datod Gwlwm (Undoing a Knot) in 1990, after which she was regarded as one of the rising stars of contemporary Welsh letters. She was praised, inter alia, for the richness and fluency of her Welsh, which was not surprising because she had been raised in a cultured home and had read Welsh at the University College of North Wales in Bangor. Her first job was lecturing in Welsh at the Normal College in that city. Although she wrote virtually nothing in English, a translation of one of her stories – a subtle and disturbing tale set in an "ordinary" street – appeared in my anthology of new Welsh short fiction, A White Afternoon, in 1998.

She also wrote verse and took part in Talwrn y Beirdd, the traditional gatherings at which poets writing in the strict metres lock horns with one another in bardic contention, displaying wit and technical expertise.

Angharad's body was pulled from the sea by coastguards close to the pier at Penarth, Cardiff's nearest coastal resort, on the morning of 9 January. South Wales Police investigating the circumstances of her death said it was not being treated as suspicious and that the Coroner had been informed.

Meic Stephens

Meinir Angharad Jones, television executive and writer: born Dolgellau, Meirionnydd 12 May 1962; Commissioning Editor for Drama and Film, S4C, 1996-2007; one daughter; died Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan 8/9 January 2010.