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Lights, camera, action! New exhibition on 100 years of the BBC in Wales opens at National Museum Cardiff

To mark the centenary of the BBC, a new exhibition at National Museum Cardiff, BBC 100 in Wales, will tell the story of BBC broadcasting in Wales. From the first broadcasts of the 1920s through to the digital age of the 2020s, the exhibition explores how Wales has contributed to the making of the BBC and how the BBC has impacted on life in Wales.

Logo for the BBC 100 in Wales exhibition, showing the title of the exhibition in large font for half the image. The other half displays a television from the 1960s.

BBC 100 in Wales, which runs 10 December 2022 until 16 April 2023, will follow the history of BBC radio and television broadcasting in Wales experienced by Welsh audiences: the changes in programmes, attitudes and technologies through primitive radios to digital devices. From the first broadcast in Cardiff on 13 February 1923, Wales found its voice on the wavelengths through a variety of programmes in English and in Welsh.

With the age of television came another new era, with the birth of BBC Wales and the opening of Broadcasting House, Llandaff. Technologies changed but the many challenges of broadcasting within and for Wales remained over the decades. 

The exhibition will highlight a few of those key moments and the programmes broadcast on the BBC in Wales. Objects from Amgueddfa Cymru collections will be displayed alongside footage from the BBC Wales archive. There will be an opportunity to see the latest TV’s and radios available to buy in the 1950s and relax in a 1970s living room to watch some Christmas TV. Visitors of all ages will enjoy learning about children’s programmes of the past, from Muffin the Mule, Bagpuss to the Teletubbies. 

BBC 100 in Wales will also feature a display of items on loan from some of the most notable BBC programmes made in Wales over the past two decades; whether you are fans of Doctor Who, Sherlock or His Dark Materials – there will be something for everyone. 

Throughout the exhibition there will be opportunities to reminisce and respond – the Museum wants to hear more about what and how audiences in Wales would be watching and listening.

Sioned Williams, Principal Curator (Modern History) at Amgueddfa Cymru said:

‘The exhibition looks at some of those key moments in the BBC’s 100-year history that have played a part in Welsh everyday life over the generations. It’s an opportunity for people to recall their own ‘'BBC moments’' and to share their memories with others. I hope that some of the fascinating objects will be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.

We also want to hear people’s views, good or bad, and what they would like to see and hear on the BBC of the future’.

The exhibition is part of a new 7-year partnership with the BBC that was previously announced in 2021. Both organisations will work together on developing public programmes, including the BBC 100 in Wales exhibition. They will also look to make their collections and research physically and digitally accessible. Both parties are committed to sharing experiences, helping to support our communities and the well-being of Wales post COVID-19.

David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru said:

'This exhibition has only been possible through our creative and positive partnership with the BBC. Over the last century, the BBC and other public service broadcasting has been a foundation of our democracy and of our understanding and engagement with the world. We’re very appreciative of the support from the BBC in developing the exhibition, and for the items they donated to the Amgueddfa Cymru collections so that the people of Wales may enjoy them for generations to come. 

We hope that visitors to the exhibition will be inspired by the story of the BBC and where that story may go in the future, but we also hope that the exhibition provides them with comfort and an opportunity to reflect on their own histories after the lonely years many of us experienced lately.'

Rhuanedd Richards, Director of BBC Cymru said:

'Reaching one hundred years of the BBC’s programmes and services in Wales is a significant milestone and I can’t think of a better way to commemorate this landmark than with an exhibition at our National Museum which reflects the incredible content created over those one hundred years right here in Wales. What strikes me is the wealth and breadth of programmes and services across radio, TV and online which have captured the defining moments in our history in both the Welsh and English languages. It’s all here and I’d like to thank the Museum for the way in which they’ve curated the exhibition with fresh eyes and ideas.

While there’s no doubt there are many unearthed treasures from times gone by on display as well as many memories of the past, what is most important is that through capturing a century of broadcasting history we also inspire the broadcasters of the future; those who will capture the highs and lows of our nation over the next century.'

BBC 100 in Wales has been co-developed with a network of young people from across Wales (Amgueddfa Cymru Producers), who were keen to question the representation of communities on the BBC and how the future may evolve in our fast-changing media landscape. There will be opportunities throughout the exhibition for visitors to share their viewpoints on the evolution of the BBC in Wales.

To coincide with the centenary celebrations in Wales in February 2023, the Museum will host a family event on 11 February. This fun day will immerse visitors in the world of backstage TV with activities ranging from creating your own news story to having some special FX make-up.

The exhibition is free to enter, and visitors can book their free tickets in advance. More information on the exhibition and family fun day can be found on the website: www.museum.wales/BBC