Big day for TV boss at the Baftas

nia

An independent television company boss has been shortlisted for a top honour for the second time this year for a pioneering documentary series for pre-school children. Nia Ceidiog, from Cardiff, who produced and directed the show, will be up against some of the biggest names in broadcasting at the finals of the British Academy Children’s Awards 2010.

It comes hot on the heels of being shortlisted for an international Rose d’Or Award for Y Diwrnod Mawr (The Big Day) which is the first ever documentary series for pre-school children. The first series, shown in S4C’s Cyw slot in the Spring, proved so popular that another 26 episodes were commissioned and are currently being broadcast on the channel. The series has been shortlisted in the Pre-School Live Action category along with three programmes from CBeebies, Grandpa in my Pocket, Big and Small and Something Special.

The glittering ceremony is being held at the London Hilton, Park Lane, on Sunday, November 28.

Nia’s company, Ceidiog Cyf, was set up in 1996, and has just moved into bigger premises in Rizla House, Pontypridd, where they are developing a new studio.

She said: “It has always been a dream of mine to make a documentary programme for very young children.

“Y Diwrnod Mawr tells real stories from the lives of real children – mainly in their own words.

“Children love to see other children on TV. I just want to tell their stories in an entertaining but real documentary.

“Y Diwrnod Mawr” manages to bridge the gap between entertainment and education, and Nia, who searched high and low for youngsters aged four to seven with interesting tales to tell, has found it very rewarding.

“It was difficult choosing which children to include – because they all have stories and are great. But it has been a real pleasure getting to spend time with the children and their families,” she said.

“I am really thrilled to have got this far, and whatever happens at the ceremony it is certainly  going to be a big day for us at Ceidiog.

“I’m a huge fan of the other three shortlisted programmes which are all broadcast on Cbeebies – it’s great to be on the same list as them.”

The news has delighted Siân Eirian, S4C’s Head of Children’s Services.

She said: “Y Diwrnod Mawr is a pioneering Welsh series which offers young children a taste of factual and documentary programmes – programmes that offer memorable and sometimes evocative experiences.

“This nomination proves that S4C’s significant investment in children’s programming has been a great success and it has made a substantial contribution to the Welsh language and cultural life in Wales.”

Nia’s story could have been completely different because her early career plans had nothing to do with television.

She recalled: “From about five years of age I was determined to be a French teacher. In fact it was almost an obsession which stayed with me until a few weeks before I graduated in French and Welsh at Aberystwyth,” she said.

Instead of going on to teacher-training she took up a drama course and subsequently spent a year as an actress with Cwmni Theatr Cymru before being asked to join HTV Wales as a presenter.

That was the start of her career in television which saw her become a well-known face in Wales.

It was during intervals in her continuity work on S4C in the 1980s that Nia started writing children’s stories which, after being illustrated, were used to help fill short slots between programmes – and that eventually resulted in the writing of the classic children’s series, FiremanSam/ Sam Tan.

She went on to gain valuable experience as a producer and enjoyed her work behind the camera.

“It was a case of feeling my way and gaining experience. I just love what I do – I’m very lucky.” she added.

Ceidiog delivers programmes in various genres including lifestyle, documentary and children’s programmes.

They made television history in 2008  after striking a deal with Al Jazeera Children’s Channel  over the pre-school series, Meees (Baaas) which is about a family of all-singing, all-dancing multi-racial sheep.

Al Jazeera Children’s Channel bought the first series and liked it so much that they decided to jointly fund the second and third ones in partnership with Ceidiog and S4C.

As founder and head of the company she is also delighted to have received the Investors in People award from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

“Ceidiog is a smallish , friendly company, with between six and nine employees but we employ many freelances who were also interviewed by the assessors,” said Nia.

“The award is a tribute to the entire team, all of whom make an important contribution,” she said. “It is all to do with the culture of the company, and we like to think that we treat everyone properly.”

“Investors in People is a quality benchmark – and recognition that we strive to do everything very well – from production to company practice.”