Murder at the Eisteddfod....1973
By Brian Evans. SNT.4 Aug 1973, 8.30pm. 90m.
Seated amongst an audience of over 8,000 people in the Pavilion of the National Eisteddfod of Wales are two visitors on holiday from London - Chief Superintendent John Wright and his wife, Mary. They have been listening attentively for the last 15 minutes or so to the adjudication of this year's crown poem.
The couple are to be witnesses of an unprecedented crowning ceremony as the winning Bard selected for that year is Rhodri Rogers, a Welsh-American poet who came over to live in Wales five years earlier and had to learn Welsh. While on the platform waiting to receive his award, Rhodri collapses and dies. It is first thought to be an apparent heart attack but when he was examined by the doctor, he was found to have been shot. As the police go over the sequence of events, it seems that Rhodri had been shot in the front when he had his back to the audience which meant someone who had already been on the platform had done it. The only people on stage were other poets.
This is not an ordinary murder. It happened on a very solemn occasion in front of 8,000 people, and two yards away from 20 reporters and photographers - it was even broadcast live on television. At the moment, the local Chief Constable is pretty short of senior men in his Force so he asks his good friend, John Wright, for help. Even though he was on leave, the visiting Detective Chief Superintendent agrees to head up the investigation.
With Petra Davies [Angharad Rogers, Wife of the Murdered Bard, Rhodri], Douglas Blackwell [Detective Chief Superintendent John Wright], Margaret John [Mary Wright, John's Wife], Dillwynn Owen [The Chief Constable], Huw Thomas [Detective Sergeant Williams], Michael Povey [Gerwyn Arfon], Ray Handy [John ap Rhys], Gareth Lewis [Meirion Matthews, the Eisteddfod Secretary], and Victoria Plucknett [Glenys Laine, an Actress]. Other parts played by members of the cast. Produced by Lorraine Davies.
Note: In August 1973, the same month that this radio programme was first broadcast, Welsh author John Ellis Williams (1901-1975) had his detective story, "Murder at the Eisteddfod", published (Gomer Press - 161 pages). A coincidence? The book is is now out of print.
The Eisteddfod (literally 'sitting') is a Welsh festival of literature, music, and song. The tradition of such a meeting of Welsh artists dates back to at least the 12th century, but the present-day format owes more to a Victorian revival.
The most important eisteddfod is the National Eisteddfod, held annually and usually alternating between North and South Wales. It has a heavy druidic flavour, with the crowning and chairing ceremonies for the victorious poets being attended by bards in flowing white costumes, children dancing, and a horn playing. However, the heritage of this ceremony is of dubious provenance; we have little idea of how the original druids lived, nor even of who they were.
Nevertheless, it is taken very seriously, and an award of a crown or a chair for poetry is a great honour. One of the most dramatic events in Eisteddfod history was the award of the 1917 chair to the poet Ellis Humphrey Evans, druidic name Hedd Wyn, for the poem Yr Arwr (The Hero). The winner was announced, and the crowd waited for winner to stand up to accept the traditional congratulations before the chairing ceremony, but no winner appeared. It was then announced that Hedd Wyn had been killed the previous month on the battlefield in France. These events were portrayed in the Academy Award nominated film Hedd Wyn.
Another important eisteddfod in the calendar is 'Eisteddfod Yr Urdd', or the youth eisteddfod. Organised by Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Youth League of Wales, it brings together children from the age of 7, up to young adults of 24, from all across Wales, for a week of competition of singing, recitation, dancing, acting and musicianship.
However, the most famous Eisteddfod is undoubtedly the International Eisteddfod, held annually in Llangollen. Choirs, singing groups, folk dancers and other groups attend from all over the world, sharing their national folk traditions in one of the world's great festivals of the arts.
....thanks to Jim (a.k.a 's-j') of radiofans for supplying these notes....ND....
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