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Street wise; Gareth Bicknell on how Terry Dyddgen-Jones went from drama teacher to The Street director.

Byline: Gareth Bicknell

THE voice directing the action on the cobbled streets of Weatherfield has the expectation of the nation weighing on his shoulders. Having started his career as a drama teacher at Ysgol Glan Clwyd,Terry Dyddgen-Jones has worked with Wales' finest actors and is now a director of Britain's favourite soap, Coronation Street. His work will be watched by millions next week as Corrie favourite Les Battersby,played by Conwy resident Bruce Jones, tries to rekindle the once blazing ardour of his on-off relationship with the light of his life,Janice. Les also faces important questions about Chesney, the boy he has taken under his wing after his relationship with Chesney's mother failed.

``There's going to be a bit of tussle for Les to come to terms with,'' says Terry, who has lived in Cardiff for 28 years,but originally hails from Camarthenshire.``He has to make a major decision regarding his future with Janice,and how Chesney fits into that equation.''

Terry has also directed scenes introducing a new character,Jamie,a cockney wide-boy who the director says will cause a stir when he arrives on the Street in the coming weeks. But some of the biggest impressions Terry will have made in recent months involve some of Coronation Street's long- serving characters in story lines which have often been gripping and at times quite harrowing.

He was responsible for the episodes in which divorced nurse Martin had to break the news of his relationship with 16 year-old girl friend Katy to her furious parents,and also for the story line in which Rita,played by veteran actress Barbara Knox,landed up in court and subsequently in a police cell.

More recently he was also behind the story in which father-to-beTodd came to terms with his sexuality, which the soap bosses decided was so exciting it warranted three episodes a night for two weeks last month.

``I was lucky to get the episode where Todd told Sarah he was gay,''he says.

``It was a Carmella Morgan signature episode,and when you get an episode like that, with that quality ofmaterial, you're very grateful as a director,because you know it's going to last in the memory for a very long time and you can make a valuable contribution to the soap.''

The beginning of Terry's involvement with Coronation Street came after he worked on Bydd Yn Wrol,a film starring then up-and-comingWelsh actors Matthew Rhys and Daniel Evans.

``In a lot of ways that was a turning point. Doing that film gave me more confidence in my abilities as a director.''

But, whileTerry has risen to prominence as a director of a show,he has not forgotten the time he spent,at the start of his career in the 1970s,as a drama teacher at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, St Asaph. He was also involved around the same time with Clwyd Theatr Cymru,in Mold.

``That was the start of my career path,''he says.``It was a very happy time for me up in North Wales.''

So,how has Terry managed to put his own stamp on the soap often watched by 20 million people?He replies he is responsible for choosing locations,discussions with the set designers about how to get the best visual impact for the show,and technical points such as deciding on the camera angles that will best emphasise the drama of the scenes.

Has he succeeded in making his episodes his own?''Imust have made my mark in some shape or form,because otherwise I wouldn't keep coming back,''he smiles.

He has been directing Coronation Street since 1996,and says the recent scenes in which Todd ``came out'' to his mother, were some of the most challenging he has had to work on.

``In a story like that, you have to be constantly aware of the material you are handling,and you can't go for cheap tricks. In this particular instance, the way the story was developed -Todd was in denial about his sexuality,but the way he opened up to his mum was something which must have touched a lot of raw nerves.

``A number of people who saw the show commented to me on the power of those scenes, which came from the fact that it was a mother-son relationship.''

Coronation Street (ITV1Wales,Sunday 7.50pm,Monday 7.30 and9.30pm,Wednesday and Friday depending on Euro 2004 coverage)


Terry said the scenes where Todd (pictured with Sarah)comes out where challenging; Director Terry Dyddgen Jones has gone from the streets of Pobl y Cwm's Cwmderi (pictured) to the cobbles of Coronation Street
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 19, 2004
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