Now he'll be the only gay in the conservation area

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There are some sound historical reasons for preserving Llanddewi-Brefi, a mid-Wales village of 600 people and considerably more sheep. St David held a synod in the village in the sixth century, since when the "Llan" - signifying a holy place - has been added to its name. But it is the village's place as a TV shrine that has persuaded Ceredigion Council that its fabric should not be changed.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams' use of Llanddewi-Brefi as the place where rubber-clad Dafydd is "the only gay in the village" in the BBC series Little Britain has led the council to announce that it should become a conservation area - so increasing the potential to generate tourism revenue. Subject to a council consultation process, the buildings and character will become protected and there will be tighter controls on planning applications.

"The village is steeped in history and is now famous for its links with the BBC comedy series," said Rosemary Rhys, planning officer for Ceredigion. "The village has the potential to become one of the real jewels in Ceredigion's tourism crown. Now seems an opportune moment to consider this."

Any move to generate more tourist trade is good news for Glesni and Neil Driver, who run the whitewashed Siop Bresni - the only store in the village - and have a nice trade in £12.99 polo shirts bearing the village name. "Any assistance to bring more people through helps," Mrs Driver said yesterday, as the winter storms kept visitors away. "It is a wonderful part of the world, though there's not a lot of work out here except for farming."

For those seeking a less subtle keepsake, there is a £10.99 T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "Nid Dafydd yw'r unig hoyw yn Llanddewi-Brefi" (Dafydd isn't the only gay in Llanddewi-Brefi). Novelty maps, made with sheep droppings gathered from the slopes of the Snowdonia National Park, are also selling well at £15.99, while those in search of something more weighty have taken the law into their own hands: six of the village's signposts were stolen last year and some ended up on eBay.

The trade generated by the television series - thousands of Little Britain fans now visit the village each year - has astonished the locals, since the show was not even filmed there. Little Britain also often depicts miners supping pints outside the village pub - but Llanddewi Brefi has never possessed a mine. It has relied mostly on agriculture before the tourism boom.

Since Little Britain tourism has obvious limitations, the village is already doing its best to offer alternative enticements. A booklet featuring circular walks includes one with majestic views over Llanddewi, where red kites and kestrels circle the skies.

There is also the market town of Tregaron, three miles away, birthplace of Twm Sion Cati, the so-called Robin Hood of Wales, and Henry Richard, the parliamentarian credited with the creation of the League of Nations.

And then there is the excitement generated when the Prince of Wales ("the only prince in the village" as some now know him) bought a stately pile up the road at Myddfai, last year.

The Prince visited Llanddewi in 2005 and is quite aware that the 21st century tourist is probably more interested in Dafydd than David. "What the famously sober saint would have said of Llanddewi's further immortalisation in a certain television programme I do not know," he said recently.

"What I do know is that the local constabulary would welcome the return of the village road sign."

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