Soap viewers love a few face as we ask ourselves who are they, what is their story and what troubles will they bring? This is the case for fans of Rownd a Rownd on S4C as Mali Ann Rees joins the popular Welsh soap as PE teacher Rhian Simmonds.
Rhian is sure to bring her own brand of drama and is teased as a ‘head turner’ – especially in the staff room. But will Mathew manage to stay on the straight and narrow he has been on over the last few months with a new teacher at the school?
S4C caught up with the actress to discuss joining the show:
Describe Rhian’s character:
She’s a fun and likeable person. She’s an active girl who enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities – mountaineering, running, cycling, swimming, weightlifting, coasteering and so on. Her adventurous background is reflected in the way she sees the world and behaves. I would say she’s a good friend and a popular person – a free spirit who is willing to look for the best in everyone.
You are well used to acting in plays – how does taking part in a soap opera compare?
Well, to be honest, I did appear on Pobol y Cwm when I was 17, and played the part of a character called Vicky for a couple of months while I was in school. I didn’t know what I was doing then, because that was my first time. It was many years ago!
Coming to Rownd a Rownd, I was shocked at how quickly scenes had to be turned around. There’s an emphasis on attempting to get it right at first take, where in drama there is more time to have another go at scenes, so it has been good practice for me. And words have to be learned quickly too, for so many different scenes. You have to be disciplined.
What was it like to stay in north Wales whilst filming?
It has been a bit of a break from the city, and nice to be so close to nature.
Everyone who works as part of the crew and cast is absolutely lovely and so welcoming. I felt like I fitted in straight away. It’s a bit scary to go on set for the first time, where you don’t know anyone, but everyone was so welcoming and warm.
What else have you been working on lately?
I’ve recently started writing. It started when I was involved in a project with the Sherman Theatre during lockdown, and I’ve continued to write ever since. I’ve also written a play for Theatr Clwyd. I enjoy the writing side but I prefer acting. They’re both so different, and you have to be in a different mood for both.
Rhian will appear on Rownd a Rownd from 3rd February.