Wrexham TV producer Nia Ceidiog shortlisted for top international award

A unique children’s show created by a TV producer from Wrexham is in the running for a prestigious international prize.

Ground-breaking series Dwylo’r Enfys (Rainbow Hands) by award-winning Nia Ceidiog, who grew up in Coedpoeth,  near Wrexham, has been shortlisted for a Rockie Award at next month’s Banff World Media Festival in Canada.

Influential international media bosses will see a special screening of the show and Nia – who wrote the original version of children’s television favourite Fireman Sam – hopes they will be tempted to snap up the format for their own children’s channels.

The show, which is bidding against programmes made in Germany, Japan and USA, is screened on S4C as part of its Cyw children’s slot.

Dwylo’r Enfys presents signing system Makaton to small children in Welsh for the first time. More than 100,000 children and adults now use Makaton methods of speech, signs and symbols to communicate.

“The format is very simple and it’s got lots of things that children love, like repetitive rhymes, and it’s also fun, with the locations and children we visit,” said Nia. “As a company we worked very hard to get the format just right, researching the needs of schools, children and parents.”

“I hope the series will raise awareness of the system around the world – this is the first time Makaton has been presented in the Welsh language, and I am sure there are children in other countries who would benefit from learning the signing system in their own language.

“Having Makaton presented to them on television is a really effective way of helping them to learn. It is popular with children who need Makaton because they have communication difficulties – and also it is popular with children who don’t need it but enjoy learning it. The outcome is that children who don’t need it are able to communicate with their classmates who do need to use the method.”

During the series, Dwylo’r Enfys visits children with special needs across Wales. Each week, Cawod and Heulwen, two lively and colourful characters leave their home at the End of the Rainbow to meet the children and introduce three new Makaton signs.

The nominated episode that media bosses will see in Banff features six-year-old Guto Jones from a Gwynedd farm, who is mad about farming.  Guto, of Gors y Hafod, Rhyd y Crofdy, Pwllheli, has learning difficulties, which have delayed his speech development. The episode sees him helping out his grandad Geraint Jones, who  also runs a farm nearby.

“The cameras follow Guto as he goes to help his grandfather vaccinate the sheep, and give them a dose of medicine – and Guto puts his grandfather in his place,” laughed Nia.

“Guto was delightful, absolutely charming and full of fun – as are all the children in the shows we’ve made  –  and that really comes over in the programmes.

“I would love to bring back a Rockie for Guto, that would be fantastic,” added Nia. “I have been to the Banff conference before and found it very useful in meeting people who can help develop projects we are working on.”

Among the latest projects from the former CBEEBIES producer is a new story-telling series  being developed with S4C and penned by Caryl Parry Jones and Christian Phillips, due to be aired in the autumn. “It is a project with international appeal, with an innovative way to illustrate stories told by some very familiar faces,” said Nia.

The Rockie nomination is the latest in a long list of triumph for former Ysgol Morgan Llwyd pupil Nia  – one of the first presenters on S4C – and her Ceidiog Cyf  TV production company.

She has previously been nominated for a Children’s Bafta for Y Diwrnod Mawr  (My Big Day ) – also about the life of a child on a Welsh farm –  plus the Rose D’Or International Award, Royal Television Society Award and the Celtic Media Festival Awards.

Her series Baaas, a live action series about a family of singing, dancing multi-racial sheep, was bought by Arabic station Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, which commissioned further series. She was also produced another of S4C Cyw’s biggest hits “Marcaroni, starring West End musical star Mark Evans who coincidentally is touring in Canada at the moment.

The Banff World Media Awards – affectionately known as the Rockies – is an internationally-recognized awards programme celebrating the very best in international television and digital media production. Dwylo’r Enfys  is nominated for the Children Programmes, aged over two, in the non-fiction category

Sioned Wyn Roberts, Commissioner for Children’s Programmes on S4C said: “It’s fantastic news Dwylo’r Enfys has been nominated in the Banff World Festival. Many congratulations to Nia Ceidiog, the production crew and especially to all the children who have starred in the series.

“It’s been such a delight to see the series develop from the idea sent to S4C by Ruth Thomas from Bontnewydd, near Caernarfon about a year ago.

Ruth brought to our attention the fact there wasn’t a system in place which allowed her to sign with her daughter, Enfys, through the medium of Welsh. As the format for Dwylo’r Enfys developed so did the Welsh-medium Makaton.

“Programmes like this are a great contribution to education by S4C, but more than that it’s been a pleasure to see so many families and children enjoying Dwylo’r Enfys and learning a new way of communicating.”

The second series of Dwylo’r Enfys is currently being filmed and there are plans in place to create apps for children with special needs to coincide with the series.

The Welsh Government’s education department will also be funding learning materials that  will enable teachers to teach Makaton through the medium of Welsh.

Children can watch the first series of Dwylo’r Enfys again on S4C’s children’s service website, Cyw – cyw.s4c.co.uk. The second series of Dwylo’r Enfys will start on S4C this summer.

The category winners will be awarded at a special presentation at the 2013 Banff World Media Festival on Sunday 9 June, which will also be live-streamed on banffmediafestival.com.

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