IT was the imminent arrival in west Wales of broadcaster, journalist and author Huw Edwards that prompted the debate . . .
Who’s the best TV newsreader this part of the world has produced?
Mr Edwards, 61, of the parish of Llangennech near Llanelli, won the argument hands down.
But there were some notable challengers as members of Llanelli Rotary Club debated the matter on the eve of Huw’s arrival to unveil a heritage display board and give the annual Welsh lecture to the town’s Workers’ Educational Association.
My pal, Llanelli solicitor Bob Evans, knows a thing or two about the merits of broadcasters – his brother Viv was one of the very first presenters on the Swansea Sound independent radio station.
“Don’t forget Huw Thomas,” urged Bob, as he added, “perhaps we should all remark on the fact that this part of west Wales has produced not one, but two, first class national newsreaders!”
You probably have to be of a certain generation to remember Huw Thomas, who was the son of the village grocer in Pembrey.
He died in 2009, aged 82.
When he joined ITN as a presenter in 1956, Huw Thomas was part of a pioneering team.
ITV’s news service had just started the previous year and rattled the cages of the BBC’s bosses with a format borrowed largely from American television.
Huw Thomas was notable for his dark, slicked-back hair and became a presenter of the Six O’Clock News in 1956, at a time when ITN was battling with the ITV regional companies, which owned it, over threats to its budget and airtime.
Thomas and the rest of the team adopted a forthright approach and helped to establish a reputation for ITV’s news as a public-service broadcaster even as the channel was criticised for allegedly pandering to popular taste in its entertainment programmes.
Thomas had a varied career in the law and as a would-be politician.
He attended Ellesmere college, Shropshire, before reading law at both Aberystwyth University and Queens’ College, Cambridge.
He stood as the Liberal Party candidate in Llanelli at the 1950 general election, making an attempt to oust Labour hero Jim Griffiths.
The year after, he was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn and practised in London and on the Wales and Chester circuit. In 1955 he became an assistant director at the department of public prosecution.
While with ITN, Thomas also presented the Saturday afternoon sports programme Let’s Go (1959-60) and the topical magazine show Here and Now (1961-64).
On leaving ITN in 1964, he was in demand as a ‘news presenter’ in dramas, including the Dennis Potter play Vote, Vote, Vote, for Nigel Barton (1965).
Thomas also presented the second run of the ITV antiques series Collecting on a Shoestring (1972) and ran Huw Thomas and Associates, which made medical and corporate documentaries.
In 1970, he again ventured into the world of politics and stood unsuccessfully as a Liberal candidate in Carmarthen.
By the way, you are probably wondering, who were the others who made the shortlist of our ‘best TV newsreader’ debate?
Well, two names were discussed – but failed to get the necessary ‘votes’ as they never quite made it to national TV and were confined to broadcasting in Wales.
They were, of course, the Grand Master Vincent Kane and the Young Pretender Jamie Owen.
Anyone else care to throw some names into the pot for best TV newsreader this part of the world has produced?
IT seemed like a good idea at the time – let’s have a spot of lunch at Bracelet Bay near Mumbles, suggested Mrs L.
In the event, it WAS a treat – but in Monday’s mist and murk we could barely see the lighthouse from The Lighthouse, if you know what I mean.
Still, it remains a lovely spot for a stroll – even if you are battling (slightly below) gale force winds.
If Jim the Poet can swim in nearby Langland in all weathers, then the very least we can do is wrap up warm and shrug off the March storms.
There was much to admire – even if we failed to take on the challenge of Ellen Edmond’s 1855 bit of poetry –
. . . I must record in memory.
Our stroll the bright March day,
We gathered sea-weed ’midst the
rocks of sheltered Bracelet Bay . . .
It was Mrs L who insisted on the outing, remarking that the last time I visited ‘Bracelet Bay’ was when I was a patient in part of the Cyril Evans ward in Morriston Hospital last summer.
Of the two places, I know which one I prefer.
It was good to see the car park litter free and the hardy souls enjoying the views adopting the display board motto of ‘Enjoy, Respect, Protect’.
Finally, a word of praise for Swansea City Council – the verges of the A4216 out of Swansea towards Cockett are blooming marvellous. The road is lined by a host of golden daffodils – perhaps our civic leaders should temporarily rename it Daffodil Way?