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Margaret Williams; She's 'always been singing' to use her own words, but in her new series on S4C, the celebrated Welsh songbird shares musical memories with other artists and provides a platform for eight talented young Welsh musicians to find their voice.

As a little girl growing up in Brynsiencyn, Anglesey, the idea of singing on radio and TV was nothing more than a dream. On the bus to Bangor we'd pass Neuadd Y Penrhyn, where many BBC programmes like Noson Lawen were recorded in those days, and my mother would whisper, in her most respectable chapel-like voice, "That's the BBC in there!" So to me, going to sing at the BBC, this completely magical place, was something I really wished for. Thankfully, my wish came true when I was 15, and became the soloist as part of the performers representing Anglesey in a series called Ser y Siroedd. It was back in the olden days of the '50s.

I celebrated my 40th year in the business back in 2004 in a programme for S4C at Venue Cymru in Llandudno. A host of lovely entertainers took part. As I approach my 50th, I realise I've been singing for much longer than that. My first television performance was on TWW's television programmes in the '50s and I did a series of eight 10-minute programmes called Moment for Melody for Teledu Cymru, TWW's successor in the early '60s. But I suppose 1964 was when it really began for me, the year of the Eisteddfodic Grand Slam as someone described it, when I won at the Urdd National Eisteddfod in Porthmadog, at the International Eisteddfod Llangollen and at the National Eisteddfod in Swansea. That garnered a great deal of publicity, so, thank goodness for the eisteddfodau.

It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. BBC Cymru established a light entertainment department in the same year - 1964 - under the leadership of Dr Meredydd Evans. It was a stimulating period, making all kinds of programmes. I met a whole host of artists who became good friends. I have wonderful memories, but some sad ones too when I remember quite a few friends who are no longer with us.

The series I did for S4C in the '80s, '90s and one in 2005 had singing as the main ingredient but there was a fair amount of chat too. My new series takes a look back at those shows through conversations with those who were among my guests on the programmes, seeing how they were then and how they are today. They include many well-known artists who were performing in those days, and who are still entertaining us today. Shan Cothi and Tara Bethan are in the first programme. Shan, along with Eleri Twynog, is there to represent the popular group of the '90s, Cwlwm, so we see a clip of a very young Shan Cothi singing in those days.

I feel lucky to be given a chance to feature a new young talent in each programme, where he or she gets the same sort of chance I once had. Our past series featured young talent in the very early stages of their careers including names now well established like Catrin Finch and Tara Bethan, and I'm sure that we'll hear a great deal of some of these new young talented people in the future.

I love working with young people. It's always a joy, and I'm also very pleased to see a few older women presenters working once again on television these days. It's good to see the likes of Gloria Hunniford, Angela Rippon, and one of my favourite artists since I first saw her in The Rag Trade back in the '60s, Sheila Hancock, presenting programmes once again. Of course I'm one of the "older women entertainers" myself, and feel very lucky and privileged to still be here. There are quite a few older actresses in Wales, and it would be great to see their wealth of experience being seen on screen. Two of them, Gaynor Morgan Rees and Olwen Rees, will be joining me in the new series.

The setting for my series is very glamorous, but also very homely. My "home" throughout the filming was a new luxury country house hotel in Llanarthney, Carmarthenshire. The owners, Caron and Fiona Jones, made us so very welcome. One feature of the hotel is a music room with magnificent hi-fi equipment which delighted some of my guests on the show.

Margaret: Ddoe a Heddiw (Margaret: Now and Then) begins on S4C on Saturday, April 20 at 9pm
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 6, 2013
Words:725
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