Joanna learns Welsh for family reasons

The well-known actor and scriptwriter Joanna Scanlan has several reasons for wanting to learn Welsh – but the one that is most important to her is being able to chat in Welsh with her niece.

Joanna has become a very familiar face thanks to television series such as The Thick of It and No Offence, films such as Bridget Jones’s Baby and Notes on a Scandal and Welsh productions such as Stella and The Accident.

She was brought up in Ruthin and Bangor. Her family still live in North Wales and her niece Robin speaks Welsh fluently.

(Picture: S4C)

We hear more about Joanna’s family and her reasons for learning Welsh in the last programme in this series of Iaith ar Daith, Sunday 11 April on S4C.

“I moved to live in Wales from The Wirral near Liverpool when I was three years old. I consider myself to be Welsh and that I have lived a Welsh life,” said Joanna. “My niece, Robin, has been to school learning Welsh from day one and it would be really nice to have a bit of a conversation with her.”
Well, Joanna has come to the right place – and she will have somebody to help her on her journey, her friend the actor Mark Lewis Jones who has appeared in several high profile dramas recently including The Crown, Chernobyl and Gangs of London.

The two friends have shared the screen many times and have worked together on productions including Stella, The Accident and Puppy Love.

Mark said: “Every time we see each other, there is always a conversation about our connection with Wales and she is very proud of this. So, this is going to be a very personal journey for her and an important one too.”

Joanna has got a great interest in Welsh culture, especially Welsh art. She is a big fan of the artist Peter Prendergast and she owns one of his paintings. So she was thrilled to discover that one of her first tasks on the journey was to go to the home of Peter’s son Owen Prendergast for an art masterclass.

During the journey, Joanna learns more about Welsh folk tales and Mark introduces her to Welsh music.

The two travel the whole way down to South Wales with Mark setting linguistic tasks as they visit several interesting places along the way including waiting tables in Newcastle Emlyn and pampering Siani the dog in Carmarthen.

(Picture: S4C)

The journey comes to an end in Cardiff with Joanna facing her biggest challenge of all – an interview with website BBC Cymru Fyw – in Welsh! Will the conversation flow – or will she be lost for words?

All will be revealed on Iaith ar Daith, Sunday 11 April. Catch up on S4C Clic with all the other episodes in the series including Steve Backshall and Iolo Williams; the actor Rakie Ayola and her mentor Eiry Thomas; James Hook and Nigel Owens; Chris Coleman and Owain Tudur Jones and Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Maggi Noggi.

Iaith ar Daith, Sunday, 11 April at 8pm on S4C.