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BIG BAD WORLD; TV WALES: Sex, work and queues for the bathroom. . . Liz Davies on a real-life drama.

Byline: Liz Davies

MEET Rachel, Liwsi, Rhys, Ioan - four young 20-somethings who share a house in the city.

They're not long out of college, and embarking on an adult way of living, growing away from those heady student days when you don't care too much about anything except having a good time, when food is not as important as drink, hygiene not so important as looking good.

The new series Y Tu centres around the lives of these four, and their friends who drop in regularly - Jim, Angharad and Geraint. And as you would expect, life is not a bowl of cherries as they battle with their own emotions and the new experience of being responsible for their own actions.

The This Life style drama is an honest and sometimes raw portrayal of what life is really like for young adults coping with sex, work, relationships, money, nightclubs, drugs, queues for the bathroom. . . even a goldfish that keeps coming back from the dead.

The four who live in the house are Liwsi (Bethan Ellis Owen), Rhys (Rhys Miles Thomas), Rachel (Catrin Powell) and Ioan (Geraint Todd). Geraint is played by Dylan Roberts, who comes from Penmaenmawr.

Rhys Miles Thomas is also, with Gruffudd Jones, the co-author of Y Tu. "Everything of myself is in it, " he says. "I believe you can and should only write out of your own experience. Only that way can you really know the feelings behind the characters. I don't believe in doing something that's not relevant to me. As a writer you also observe a lot and use what you see in people's reactions and what they say. It's all stored away in a small part of your brain until you need it."

But acting out your own script can be a problem, as he soon discovered. "When I'm acting, I often think that some of the lines could have been better, and I'm constantly changing my performance - I'm a continuity nightmare."

The character he portrays in the series - also called Rhys - reflects something in all of us, he says.

He enjoys life, is a bit of a Jack the lad who views women as a challenge - he definitely doesn't want to commit himself to one woman. But there's another side to his character too: he wants to be a teacher, to inspire children. But he has a tendency to think too much and can react in an over the top manner.

At the age of 50, Gruffudd, who comes from Rhosllannerchrugog - as does Mark Lewis Jones, who plays Jim - approaches the writing from beyond the age group of the characters. He can remember the time in his life when he went through that point of change and made that step into responsible adulthood. "I've been there, " he says enigmatically. "The key to the drama is the relationships between the characters and chaotic is a fair description of their lives. When you're that age all your emotions are on the surface. Everything feels important; you hurt a lot, you enjoy a lot."

Gruffudd still harbours a yen to return to Rhos. "When I was a boy there was so much going on there. There'd be concerts and dramas, it was a city-like village, very cosmopolitan. We weren't parochial, but looked to Liverpool and Manchester for inspiration except it was all done in Welsh.

"Those are my early influences and I'd love to be able to go back and recreate that atmosphere. It's not impossible - some 10 years ago we did a community show with about 300 local people about the history of the village. We did 10 shows, with an audience of about 600 for each."

Gwenda Griffith is executive producer of production company Fflic. Y Tu is Fflic's first foray into drama, with the company better known as the producer of programmes like 04 Wal, a lifestyle series for S4C, and River Patrol for HTV.

"By being hard-hitting, it's bound to cause some controversy, but I believe it's a true reflection of what life's about for young people today, " she says. "The series holds nothing back at all and I think it'll really hit a nerve."

Reinforcing the reality of it all is the fact that it has all been filmed in a real house in Cardiff, although as far as the story is concerned it could be any town in Wales. But while this added enormously to the authenticity of the piece, the work of the camera and sound technicians needed to be a bit more creative and resourceful than if a set had been purpose-built.

Martin Jones is the grip on Y Tu. "You do have to be a bit more inventive when filming in such a small space, " he says.

"There's one scene where they're all drinking tequila slammers before going out for the evening. For that I filmed through a bathroom mirror screwed to a tracking board, which increased the effective distance."

Y Ty Thursday, 10.30pm, S4C

Who's in the house?

RACHEL . . . Has just started work in marketing and is eager to please. An old school friend of Liwsi's, with an open relationship with Rhys. LIWSI. . . A complex girl with many problems. Trying to go back to college, but a lot of bad habits keep getting in the way, including alcohol, drugs and men. RHYS. . . About to embark on a career in teaching - something he's always wanted to do. Full of enthusiasm and always has a woman. JIM. . . Will things sizzle in the kitchen as Jim, the chef, arrives? He's experienced in the ways of the world. ANGHARAD. . . Popular, from a working class background and determined to better herself. Not shy to offer an opinion and fancies Rhys. IOAN. . . Handsome, self-confident and gay. Full of zest and lives a hectic life. Doesn't want to settle down. . . or does he?

CAPTION(S):

GROWING PAINS:Rachel (Catrin Powell), Rhys (Rhys Thomas), Liwsi (Bethan Owen) and Ioan (Geraint Todd)
COPYRIGHT 2002 MGN Ltd.
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Title Annotation:Media
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2002
Words:987
Previous Article:WALK ON THE WILD SIDE; TV WALES.
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