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Hollywood actor takes lead role in Aberfan reading.

HOLLYWOOD actor Mark Lewis Jones is to take the lead in a oneoff dramatised reading of extracts from a new novel that explores a little-known aspect of the Aberfan disaster.

Jones - who was a whaler in the acclaimed film Master and Commander, and whose other roles include a police inspector in BBC drama series 55 Degrees North, and soldier Tecton in Troy and Rob Morgan in the series Stella - will play Harry Roberts, a fictional South Wales Echo reporter shocked by the way some Fleet Street newspapers sensationalised the tragedy and its aftermath.

> Mark Lewis Jones Black River, by Cardiff author Louise Walsh, will be launched at Waterstones in Cardiff city centre at 7pm on Thursday. The launch will include dramatised readings by Mark Lewis Jones and young Swansea actor Ross Leyshon.

Louise said: "I'm very grateful that an actor of Mark's calibre agreed to take the role of Harry at the launch. The book looks at an aspect of the Aberfan disaster that hasn't previously received much attention: the panic in the Welsh Office about how some papers were covering it."

The central theme of the novel is based on correspondence Ms Walsh found in the National Archives. In August 1967 Selwyn Jones, the town clerk of Merthyr Tydfil, wrote to Cledwyn Hughes, the Secretary of State for Wales, asking him to take whatever action he could to restrict television and newspapers from continuing to bring publicity to Aberfan.

Peter Marshall, of the Information Division at the Welsh Office, wrote a memo to colleagues saying the town clerk's letter confirmed officials' worst fears. He wrote: "We have not been unmindful of the situation and have repeatedly spoken of the unscrupulous journalists who have moved into Aberfan.

"It is fairly common knowledge in the village for instance, that there is at least one unscrupulous freelance journalist there supplying national newspapers with totally unbalanced and - in some cases - untrue stories. This man has already been involved in an exchange of blows with fellow journalists and is known to be inciting [two bereaved fathers], to spread false stories."

Black River, by Louise Walsh, is published by Carreg Gwalch at PS7.50. More details about the book can be found at www.blackriver.cymru

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 30, 2016
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