Producer: Martin Lisemore
Director: Ronald Wilson
HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY/Episode 1/Intro by Alistair Cooke
Good Evening, I'm Alistair Cooke.
Tonight we begin a six-part dramatization of Richard Llewellyn's novel How Green Was My Valley, the first and far and away the most successful of his twenty-one novels. It was made into an Academy Award-winning movie.
Now I creep into some comparisons that I find interesting and I hope are not odious. The set for the movie in 1940 was built in Hollywood as a small Welsh mining town and was used later with a little adaptation, to represent a Swedish village, a French village, and German village. The version we start tonight was filmed in South Wales where Llewellyn grew up. The cast of the Hollywood film was recruited from England, Scotland, and Ireland. The cast for tonight's adaptation is ninety-five percent Welsh. Sian Phillips, who plays the mother, did not speak English until she was sixteen. Stanley Baker, the father, is the son of a miner who lost his leg in a cave-in. The writer, Elaine Morgan's own father was a miners' union organizer and it is her father-in-law's diaries that she draws upon in this evening's story.
First, something about the author. Richard Llewellyn was born in Cardiff seventy years ago. At the age of sixteen, he had what must be a unique experience for a Welsh boy brought up among coal miners: he was sent off to Italy to study hotel management. But he seems to have been more interested in painting and dabbling in sculpture than whipping up soufflés.
A restless soul, he quit the arts for the British Army, in which he served at home and abroad for five years. The best thing that came out of that, apparently, was the first draft of How Green Was My Valley–written mostly in India. In 1931, he left the Army and found himself–in the pit of the depression–without a job. He fiddled around with playing extras in films, went up that ladder high enough to become a director, at which point he was fired. He took to writing during the jobless years of the thirties, rewrote this story, sometimes in Cardiff, and sometimes on a bench in London's St. James' Park. The novel of How Green Was My Valley was accepted just before the outbreak of the Second World War--on which he became a Captain in the Welsh Guards.
The first episode begins with Mother Morgan and her small son Huw walking on one of the hills that enclose the narrow valleys where the coal seams lie deep below the earth, and the miners' cottages crowd on top of it. The time is 1890. It might just as well be 1790 or, in some rude fundamental ways 1290. For they were digging coal in South Wales seven hundred years ago--but when we come in on it, this was the coal-exporting center of the world.
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