Episode 2 Connie's Musical Map of Wales


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Episode 2

Connie Fisher takes a journey through Wales. She creates her own Bollywood epic in Snowdonia, finds out why the Beatles came to Bangor and performs a duet with Russell Grant.


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Connie!

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You may remember me from a place that was alive with the Sound of Music.

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Well, I've been set free to explore a much more beautiful place

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where the hills are truly alive with the sound of music.

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I'm taking a magical mystery tour

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to draw my very own musical map of Wales.

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I'll be travelling the length and breadth of the country,

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meeting some fabulous people.

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I used to be where you are.

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All with wonderful talents...

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# That will bring us back to doe. #

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..and amazing tales to share.

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Swept away.

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Hold on for a bumpy ride.

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I haven't driven a car in ten years. It's really fine, honestly.

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Famous last words.

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# Doe, a deer, a female deer

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# Ray a drop of golden sun... #

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I've headed north into the mountains of Snowdonia and beyond.

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People say my driving's a bit erratic, and so are my routes.

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I always go the pretty way.

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And today my route takes me around this glorious part of the world.

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Travelling through the mountains

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which will be alive with the Sound of Music

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and ending in the fantasy world of Portmeirion.

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And I'm not travelling alone.

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This is my travelling companion. His name is Gilbert.

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He's one of the last remaining Welsh-built sports cars.

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He'll be providing you with the best seat in the house.

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I, on the other hand, might be in for a bumpy ride.

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To tell you the truth, this journey has given me a few sleepless nights.

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A combination of steep mountain passes,

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a 40-year-old travelling companion and my driving.

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Be afraid, be very afraid!

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My musical map starts with the incredible story

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of the day the Beatles came to Bangor.

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1967 and the Beatles were a musical, global phenomenon.

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The Fab Four defining the Swinging Sixties.

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# All you need is love. #

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So why in July of that year did they come to Bangor University

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and cause uproar?

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The Beatles' spiritual guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

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came to Bangor to lead a transcendental meditation conference.

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So far, so odd, but what made it a day to remember

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was that John, Paul, George and Ringo decided to sign up as delegates.

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I'm reuniting the Bangor four who were part of that amazing event.

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-Hello, gentleman. Good morning.

-Good morning.

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Please, tell me what was it like

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the day in '67 the Beatles came to Bangor?

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The weather wasn't as good as this.

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# The magical mystery tour... #

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Len Jones was a gardener on the campus.

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Little did he know what was at the bottom of the garden that day.

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What was the buzz like?

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I came at 8 o'clock in the morning to start work.

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And there was hundreds of people here.

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Well, they were singing and they were meditating.

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HE CHANTS

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It was fun and they were playing their guitars and everything. It was great.

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The Beatles came then.

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You couldn't move with hundreds of people

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and especially girls who were all screaming, "Beatles, where are you?"

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The whole college,

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everybody stopped work for a day or two and it was heaven.

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It was the height of flower power, you must have been a busy gardener?

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Yes, we had a big rose bed here, right round that monkey puzzle tree.

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And they took all the roses, cut them all off

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and put them round their hair.

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I heard that they weren't wearing many clothes when you spotted them, is that true?

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Yes, it was.

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A lot of the girls, they were bare-breasted and everything else.

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The whole Bangor area seemed to go mad, but it put Bangor on the map.

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Bob Hewitt was a trainee press photographer who got wind

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of the Beatles' magical mystery tour to Bangor and rushed to the station.

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I stepped off the train and they stood there

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while we took that photograph.

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So it was a bit of a thrill for me

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because I was still saving up bits of my wages to buy the albums.

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I really did like the Beatles.

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When you took this shot, did you know you had an iconic image?

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I was just firing away and hoping the film was going through the camera.

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To go and develop the film and seeing we had great shots,

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it just sums up the summer of love

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and whatever else you'd call it at that time.

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I don't think anyone realised in the mid-'60s,

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what an impact these people would have.

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Geoff was a local teenager who decided that he wasn't going to miss out

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and with the help of his dad's camera he could get up close and personal with his heroes.

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You were naughty the day the Beatles came to Bangor, weren't you?

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Well, yes I suppose, nobody famous ever came to Bangor.

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So we grabbed our cameras and just a notepad and pen from the shop

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and we said, "freelance press", cameras hidden under the coats,

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and they just nodded us in.

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We sidled down the side to near the stage,

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listened to all this mumbo-jumbo.

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Cameras out, took a photograph, cameras under the coats hoping nobody noticed.

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So a peek at these photos?

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Yeah. What we weren't expecting was the fact Mick Jagger,

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Marianne Faithfull,

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Jane Asher, Patti Boyd were also there on the front row.

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Star-studded, wasn't it? And you were there.

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He's wearing his famous crush velvet pants.

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You look a bit like Mick Jagger.

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You think so?

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Gareth Roberts was a student who was curious about transcendental meditation

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that Maharishi and the Beatles and went to the conference.

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But the Beatles' meditation

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was to be interrupted by a phone call with some tragic news.

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It was the summer holidays so there were no students.

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The telephone rang and rang.

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And Paul McCartney said somebody better answer that telephone.

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We went into the hall and it was a message to say their manager,

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Epstein had died and that, of course, changed the whole

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series of events, they immediately left Bangor on the first train out.

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That was a watershed in their history

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and the whole thing changed after that.

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Certainly, that's what made this particular event here

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so important in the history, I think.

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The Beatles left Bangor in a hurry on that day, never to return.

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And I'm off on my magical mystery tour,

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as I head a few miles south into Snowdonia.

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Come on, Gilbert.

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OK, look at that, there's a sheep sign. Lookout for sheep.

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Beware of the sheep!

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Wow, look at that, it's amazing.

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What music do you associate with these stunning ranges?

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Operatic arias with Bryn Terfel? Traditional Welsh hymns and harps?

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Maybe, what about the Bollywood beat?

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Believe it or not, they've been more than ten Bollywood epics

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shot in Wales in the past few years.

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I'm going to meet Raj Verma,

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a Bollywood star who's performed in numerous films in India.

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He decided the celebrity lifestyle was no longer for him.

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He visited Dolgellau and fell in love with Wales.

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Raj and his family now live there

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and he started his own company to help bring Bollywood to Wales.

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Raj, what a spectacular backdrop? Isn't it stunning?

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Amazing, I feel I'm on a Bollywood set.

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So, when you're walking through the streets

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of Dolgellau do people stop you and say,

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you were in a Bollywood film?

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Anyone who is Indian are taken by shock and surprise.

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"What is he doing here?"

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There's a lot of dancing in Bollywood, so how many people

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would come to dance in a Bollywood film in the middle of Snowdonia?

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Well, if it's a reasonably-sized production,

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one would see at least 70, 80 dancers standing here dancing,

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changing lightbulbs. Doing mad things in colourful clothes.

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If you tried to look for reality, you'll wonder, fine.

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The boy is singing, he's in love.

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The girl is dancing, she's in love,

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but what's wrong with the people behind them? Why are they dancing?

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But that is Bollywood.

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How are you bringing Bollywood to North Wales?

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I do Bollywood dancing so I'm going to teach them.

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I do my workshop in Wales which people love.

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My name is Connie 'Can't Dance' Fisher, can't dance, won't Dance.

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I'll give anything a shot, could you teach me a few moves?

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Absolutely, I can but for that you need to fall in love.

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Let's do it because you need a situation.

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Let's go to the basics first.

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In Bollywood dancing, right from the finger, go like that.

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To the arm, to the shoulder, body, to the head,

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everything has to move at the same time.

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OK? Yes, you'll get there.

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Warm up, get the shoulder, yes. Come on, go like that.

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One, two, one two.

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One, two, one, two, right.

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Now feed the pigeons. Turn, turn, full turn. Circle.

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Feed those pigeons.

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-One, two.

-It's getting complicated now, Raj.

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It's not complicated, it's nothing.

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One, two, one, two. One, two. One, two.

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Please, do try this at home.

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Is this right? Shake 'em, baby.

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Oh, yes.

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So in Bollywood dancing,

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it's extremely important to have that smile and love,

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romance on the face. Yes?

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So imagine someone dancing like this, changing the light bulbs.

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Or... The little, yes?

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And now it's time to go for the big one.

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'The story so far.

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'A beautiful young girl - ahem -

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'is going for a gentle walk in the foothills of love.

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'When suddenly she bumps into a handsome film producer.

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'Get him!

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'How many Bollywood dancers does it take to change a light bulb?

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'And, of course, they live happily ever after.

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'Ah, well, duty calls, time and musical maps wait for no woman.

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'Follow me, crew.'

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It might not be possible, Gilbert seems to be jealous.

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Broken down!

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Come on! You know I love you, really!

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Let's go.

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Gilbert's back.

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We're off and back on the road again

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as we leave totally stunning Snowdonia

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and what a view on a beautiful day like today.

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Gilbert and I are heading a few miles west through Llanberis

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towards Caernarfon and the Menai Straits.

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I'm here to meet some very special young musicians

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who are following in the footsteps of one of Wales's most famous composers.

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William Mathias was a child prodigy.

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He learned to play the piano at the age of three

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and composing by the tender age of five.

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He wrote an anthem for the Royal Wedding

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in 1981 for the Prince and Princess of Wales.

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Here, in the gallery is the William Mathias centre

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and I'm here to seek out some stars of the future.

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This striking modern architecture is home to some of the country's

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best young musicians who want to make music their life.

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And artistic director, Sioned Webb, tutors some of the pupils.

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Push.

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One of the star pupils is this award-winning pianist.

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Hiya. That is pretty impressive. How long have you been playing?

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-I started when I was about seven years old?

-Yes.

-I'm now 15.

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Are you very competitive?

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Yes, I was very fortunate to win the Blue Ribbon Award

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in the National Eisteddfod, in Cardiff in 2008.

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-And you're how old?

-I was 12 at the time.

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What goes on here?

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It was set up as a centre of excellence,

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but it's grown and there are nearly 400 pupils here now.

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The youngest is 18 months.

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-She attends...

-SPEAKS WELSH

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Which is the first steps in music.

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You have to be really gifted to come here? Or is it for anybody?

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We do believe every musician is a gifted musician, but on the other hand

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we have a diverse number of pupils and diverse styles and talents.

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And where would a Welsh music centre be without a harp?

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And in the talented hands of pupil Rhian Dyer.

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I don't want to stop you, it's so beautiful.

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-Is that a hard piece to play?

-Yes, it's quite hard.

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I'm learning it for my diploma.

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It sounds like you put in hours of practise a week?

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Yeah, I try to do over an hour day.

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Is there anything that you have to sacrifice to be a harpist?

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-Well, I can't have long nails.

-You can't have long nails?

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No, I have to keep them quite short.

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OK, that counts me out completely.

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Do you have any harp idols?

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I like Catrin Finch because she's doing lots of different things

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-and she's experimenting a lot.

-She's quite groovy.

-Yeah, she is quite groovy.

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Catrin Finch gives master classes at the centre to bring on

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the next generation of harpists.

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You never know, one day we might all be listening to Rhian Dyer.

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Let's be off, is it?

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Just a short journey across Caernarfon to the home

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of royal pageantry and music - Caernarfon Castle.

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Wow, look at that! Pretty impressive.

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-NEWSCASTER:

-'The castle was hung with banners.'

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And just over 40 years ago,

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Caernarfon prepared for a very special event.

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'The symbol of sovereignty.'

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In 1969, royal fanfares welcomed the new Prince of Wales.

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But there was music from this period that was rather less welcoming.

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Security in Caernarfon was massive as the British Government reacted

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to Welsh nationalist protest at the investiture of Prince Charles.

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A lot of it was peaceful...

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some less so.

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And one song and one young Welsh folk singer provided the soundtrack

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to the protest with his hit of the Swinging Sixties.

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I'm off to meet Dafydd Iwan, better known today as

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Plaid Cymru politician and businessman, but way back then, "the Bob Dylan of Wales".

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I was involved in the language struggles

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and campaigns of the '60s and '70s and so on

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and, naturally, that was gradually taking over my life and my songs.

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The song which has really created most reaction, negative and positive,

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is the song I wrote about Prince Charles in 1969.

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I wrote Carlo as a kind of leg-pull, you know, satirising him

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as the biggest Welshman that ever was.

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The hype surrounding the investiture was so intense,

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people really created a hate figure out of me

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and people threatened my life.

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On the other hand, there were people who really loved the song,

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so I actually remember concerts where the audience actually split in two.

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Half of them were throwing things at me and half of them were idolising me.

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# La-la, la-la, la-la. #

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Controversial songs are strange things.

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They're controversial for a while and then they either die

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or become part of your repertoire.

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And it's always good to recall the furore,

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if you like, for and against.

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But I think they can play a small part

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in changing people's attitudes.

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I've never seen it as protest, really,

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I've seen it has expressing what means a lot to you.

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-So it's fair to say you'd be lost without the Royal Family?

-Exactly.

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I've made quite a bit of money out of them.

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Not as much as they have made out of me!

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THEY LAUGH

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Time to leave Caernarfon, its castle and controversy

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and on to my next destination.

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Porthmadog translates as 'port of the mad dog'.

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I'm going the beautiful way, through some stunning landscape

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and down to Porthmadog. But beauty has a price.

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These roads are a little bit tricky!

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Wee! Sorry.

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Breathe in. Come on, Gilbert.

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SHE INHALES DEEPLY

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Oh, a hill start.

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ENGINE STALLS

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ENGINE RESTARTS

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It's not me, it's Gilbert.

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Hill start two. Come on, Gilbert.

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Woo! And we're off!

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SHE CHUCKLES

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It'll be worth it in the end, trust me, as I'm off to piano heaven.

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Porthmadog has a very unusual musical claim to fame:

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it supplies pianos for some of the biggest musical performers in the country.

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And I'm here to meet Ian Jones, AKA Mr Piano,

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to find out exactly how Porthmadog became THE place for pianos.

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Ian, we're surrounded by a sea of pianos.

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Tell me how this all started?

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It all started from a little old lady walking into my mother and father's shop.

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She said, "Do you sell pianos?"

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-My father being my father, said, "No, but I can get you one."

-THEY LAUGH

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Off he went down to London to get two pianos, and he came back,

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sold the first, sold the second and the rest is history.

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What is your most expensive piano here?

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-We're talking £27,000 to £28,000.

-Right! Yeah.

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It's the handmade, it's the precision.

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That is what you pay for in a piano.

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So, indulge me, who have you tuned pianos for?

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-I've tuned for Connie Fisher once.

-Oh, really?

-Yeah.

-Where was that?

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-I think, was it at the Vaynol?

-At the Vaynol. yes.

-Yes.

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This one's just come back from Des O'Connor.

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-Des O'Connor's played this piano?

-Lovely, lovely man. Lovely man.

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-Did he tap dance on the piano as well?

-I hope not!

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I can imagine Des giving it a bit of the old shoe shuffle.

0:20:400:20:43

But it's been great.

0:20:430:20:45

We've tuned and supplied many pianos,

0:20:450:20:47

from Carreras to Cullum to Bryn.

0:20:470:20:49

-Where's the furthest that you've actually shipped a piano?

-Anywhere.

0:20:490:20:53

-Top of any mountains? Wasn't it Bryn's?

-Oh, mountains, that's been terrible for him.

0:20:530:20:58

He doesn't make it easy for us.

0:20:580:20:59

No, he wants to go to Bardsey Island or up Snowdon.

0:20:590:21:02

That was good.

0:21:020:21:04

# I am dreaming of the mountains of my home... #

0:21:040:21:10

The Snowdon Railway had extra passengers on that day -

0:21:100:21:13

Ian and the piano.

0:21:130:21:16

But that was the easy part. It took some heave-ho

0:21:160:21:19

and quite a few burly men to take the instrument the last few yards.

0:21:190:21:24

# ...the summer never dies

0:21:240:21:28

-# But my heart is in the mountains of my home.

-#

0:21:280:21:35

One minute it was nice and sunny, then, poof!

0:21:350:21:38

All of a sudden, it was getting cold

0:21:380:21:40

and the piano was in and out all day, really.

0:21:400:21:44

But, yeah, we tuned it three or four times that day.

0:21:440:21:47

-Would you mind if I had a bash?

-Fire away.

-Right. Woo!

0:21:470:21:50

-It's an expensive one, I can tell, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:21:500:21:53

Right.

0:21:530:21:54

SHE PLAYS "CHOPSTICKS"

0:21:540:21:58

HE LAUGHS

0:21:580:22:00

Impressive, huh?

0:22:050:22:06

I'd stick to singing, Connie, really.

0:22:060:22:10

That was a bit harsh.

0:22:100:22:12

I didn't like to tell Ian, but I think that piano was out of tune!

0:22:120:22:16

The final piece of my North Wales musical map is a magical place

0:22:200:22:24

just a few miles east - Portmeirion.

0:22:240:22:26

The amazing fantasy Italianate village

0:22:260:22:30

was the dream of world-famous architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.

0:22:300:22:33

Work began in 1926 and took many years to complete

0:22:330:22:38

and it's regarded by many as one of the seven wonders of Wales.

0:22:380:22:43

It was to be a very '60s theme tune

0:22:430:22:44

that was to make this place even more famous.

0:22:440:22:48

The Prisoner was a cult series in the late-'60s.

0:22:510:22:55

Its story was even stranger than this place.

0:22:550:22:59

If you haven't seen it it's hard to explain,

0:22:590:23:02

but it involved a prisoner - Patrick McGoohan, a very threatening beach ball

0:23:020:23:06

and a lot of confusion!

0:23:060:23:09

But there is something about to happen here which you may

0:23:090:23:13

think is even more bizarre!

0:23:130:23:14

This will surprise you, because it surprised me.

0:23:140:23:17

Portmeirion is also home to a festival that celebrates

0:23:170:23:21

the work of a great musical star.

0:23:210:23:23

And it's run by a great Welsh stargazer.

0:23:230:23:29

MUSIC: "We'll Gather Lilacs" by Ivor Novello

0:23:290:23:34

Ivor Novello was born in Cardiff in 1893

0:23:360:23:40

and became one of the world's most popular composers and performers,

0:23:400:23:44

even starring in Hollywood films.

0:23:440:23:45

Back then he was even bigger than Lloyd-Webber,

0:23:450:23:48

writing numerous hit shows and songs.

0:23:480:23:51

So what you might well be asking is... what's Russell Grant doing here?

0:23:510:23:55

Well, Russell, I never expected you to be an Ivor Novello fan.

0:23:550:23:58

So what does an Ivor Novello fan look like?

0:23:580:24:01

-Like this.

-It's true.

0:24:010:24:02

'Russell Grant, who lives in North Wales, is best known

0:24:020:24:06

'for his astrology and predictions.'

0:24:060:24:08

Back in the '70s though, he was an actor and singer

0:24:080:24:12

and performed in an Ivor Novello musical,

0:24:120:24:14

and the love affair began.

0:24:140:24:16

I was working with Olive Gilbert, who was one of Ivor's leading ladies

0:24:160:24:23

and he wrote lots of the parts for her.

0:24:230:24:25

Beautiful songs, like,

0:24:250:24:27

# Take your girl for the cherries on her lips

0:24:270:24:30

# For the cherries on her lips take the girl... #

0:24:300:24:33

Just the most magical music, and he wrote some of our greatest musicals.

0:24:330:24:38

Perhaps Ivor Novello's best known song became the troops' favourite

0:24:420:24:46

during the First World War. Keep The Home Fires Burning

0:24:460:24:49

was the perfect song that reminded men of home and hope,

0:24:490:24:52

and was inspired by Ivor's mother.

0:24:520:24:56

Clara, his mum, she said to Ivor,

0:24:560:24:58

"You need to write something for the First World War."

0:24:580:25:02

He said, "But, Mum, they've already got It's A Long Way to Tipperary!

0:25:020:25:06

And she said, "No, no. You need to write it."

0:25:060:25:08

And they sang it first, in a music hall setting.

0:25:080:25:14

By the end of it,

0:25:140:25:16

everybody was joining in and there was a standing ovation.

0:25:160:25:19

Ivor Novello has become something of a forgotten hero,

0:25:190:25:25

many people these days would only know him through

0:25:250:25:27

the Novello music awards.

0:25:270:25:29

It's rather sad that last year, one of the recipients of a Novello award

0:25:290:25:34

didn't know who Novello was, which I found rather sad.

0:25:340:25:38

But Ivor Novello certainly isn't as popular

0:25:380:25:43

as he was or as he should be.

0:25:430:25:46

As a result of that, I've been working as much as I can

0:25:460:25:50

to try and think of ways to raise his popularity.

0:25:500:25:56

The Ivor Novello International because he was an international star,

0:25:560:26:00

coming from Hollywood, Music and Movies Festival.

0:26:000:26:03

And we will hold it here in Wales, where he belongs.

0:26:030:26:07

This sounds so exciting!

0:26:070:26:09

You, my darling, I'm going to tell you now, you're already a patron.

0:26:090:26:12

-Ooh, check it out!

-I just made you.

0:26:120:26:14

-I love it!

-A bit like, here we go, Fairy Godmother, ping ping...

0:26:140:26:18

You are a patron!

0:26:180:26:20

'We have a piano, pianist, Annette Bryn Parri...

0:26:200:26:24

'Hey guys, let's put on a show right here!'

0:26:240:26:26

Shall we do it?

0:26:260:26:28

# Keep the home fires burning

0:26:280:26:33

ALL: # Though your hearts are yearning

0:26:330:26:38

# Though your lads are far away

0:26:380:26:43

# They dream of home... #

0:26:430:26:48

I know this bit.

0:26:480:26:50

# ..There's a silver lining... #

0:26:500:26:53

'What a perfect end to an amazing journey.

0:26:530:26:56

'Ivor Novello, Portmeirion and Russell Grant.

0:26:560:27:00

I don't think you can top that, so I won't even try!'

0:27:000:27:04

# ..Till the boys come home. #

0:27:040:27:13

Gets you right there, which is what it was meant to do!

0:27:170:27:20

-It's like chocolate, you want more!

-We do!

0:27:200:27:22

Next time, I'm travelling across the heads of the South Wales valleys

0:27:220:27:27

to be serenaded by a superstar...

0:27:270:27:29

RHYDIAN SINGS

0:27:290:27:32

..discover a recording studio that is part of rock history...

0:27:360:27:39

When Freddie Mercury wrote Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps he got

0:27:390:27:43

-"any way the wind blows" from looking up at that horse?

-From that weather vane!

0:27:430:27:46

..and I give a master class in music and dance.

0:27:460:27:50

Well, you've got to give something back to the next generation!

0:27:550:27:59

I'm exhausted!

0:27:590:28:00

# Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels

0:28:000:28:05

# Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

0:28:050:28:08

# Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings. #

0:28:080:28:12

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:120:28:15

Connie Fisher proves that in Wales the hills are truly alive with the sound of music as she embarks on a magical musical mystery tour to meet incredible people with amazing stories.

This week Connie travels through beautiful North Wales to create her very own Bollywood epic in Snowdonia, finds out exactly why the Beatles came to Bangor and performs a unique duet with Welsh stargazer Russell Grant in Portmeirion.