After 25 years, poet, philosopher and Wales’ favourite lost cause, Siadwel, returns to the airwaves for a four-part series of comic monologues, written and performed by John Sparkes.
The first episode will be broadcast on Friday 21st March at 6.30pm on BBC Radio Wales.
Episode 1: Long awaited return of the much loved poet, philosopher, and, Wales’ favourite lost cause Siadwel. Today he meets school bully Gary Price for the first time and is adopted by a family of monkeys.
Episode 2: Wales’ favourite lost cause, Siadwel, finds out why there are dead flies in the undertaker’s window and Nan makes soup out of last year’s Christmas decorations.
Episode 3: There’s always someone worse off than yourself – it’s Siadwel. Today his girlfriend Gravel is possessed by the demonic spirit of Rhyl and he loses control of his anorak.
Episode 4: Siadwel has turned being a loser into an art form. In the last episode of this series, he gets an unusual part in the school nativity play and repeatedly fails to be in the school photograph.
Click here to visit the BBC’s Siadwel page – there’s a podcast there right now, and episodes will be available on the iPlayer for a week after broadcast.
An Interview with John Sparkes
“I THOUGHT I’d finished with Siadwel” says Swansea-born comedian John Sparkes of the character that first propelled him into the national consciousness when he stumbled, somewhat poetically, onto our screens alongside the likes if Rab C Nesbitt and The Baldy Man in 1986 on Scottish sketch show Naked Video.
Siadwel’s last outing was 25 years ago, and John has since carved out a varied and successful career as a comedian specialising in Welsh-centric caricatures, including loveable fool Barry Welsh and Fishguard reporter Hugh Pugh, and more recently in the world of children’s entertainment on a roll call of shows that read like a who’s who of characters guaranteed to drive the little ones giddy: Fireman Sam, Shaun the Sheep, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, Wallace and Gromit and Peppa Pig to name a few.
But now, somewhat inadvertently, John has turned his attention back to his original comic creation, who returns to the air waves with a new radio show next Friday.
“I was just scribbling ideas down for a new character, thinking about growing up in Wales, and I just thought … actually, this is Siadwel,”
he says of the characters rebirth.
But unlike his previous appearances, which were short and snappy two minute snippets as part of a larger show, Siadwel will be taking centre stage in his own radio show. “I think it works better on radio,” says John of the transition.
“The characters are so extreme that they wouldn’t work on TV.
“I wouldn’t want to see Siadwel’s terrifying girlfriend Gravel in the flesh. She’s the girl next door … but more next door than girl!” he jokes.
And while 25 years might have passed since we last caught up with Siadwel, John is hoping to pick things up right where he left off.
“His age is non-specific, and I hope to carry the old audience with me”, he says of the passing of time between programmes.
“I don’t know how old people thought he was back then, but I was in my 30s, though he was probably in his teens.
“It’s still set in Swansea, in real places like Mumbles and Llansamlet, and anyone who remembers it from the 80s will remember the girlfriend, Billy, mam and dad.
“He went to a school in Swansea, that was very strong on discipline — even the teachers got caned. And there were terrible spelling mistakes there; one of the boys got canned!”
And Siadwel is still an aspiring poet — not that his poetry’s improved significantly over the years.
“The haikus are very good; they lend themselves well to comedy. And some of his poems are homages to other poets,” he says of Siadwel’s creative swiping.
“For example, Shakespeare’s ‘shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ becomes ‘shall I compare thee to Swansea Bay?’” he laughs.