Polish subtitles will be provided on a television programme in Britain in what is thought to be a UK first when S4C screens a documentary on Polish immigrants in Wales on Tuesday, 5 June.
The programme O Flaen Dy Lygaid:Polska Cymru (Before Your Eyes:Polska Wales) is presented by London-born, Welsh-speaking Barbara Owsianka, whose parents fled their native Poland after the Second World War. She now lives near Bangor with her Welsh husband, Eryl Roberts and their children, Elin and Aled who speak Polish, Welsh and English.
Series Producer Marc Edwards who produced the BBC Wales programme for S4C explained the idea came from those featured in the programme.
“Polish people in Wales helped us enormously in making the documentary and were thrilled we were taking an interest in their community,” he said. “The idea for subtitles in Polish really came from them. They wanted the programme to be available to Polish expats all over the UK and we were very happy to help make that happen.”
Emlyn Penny Jones, S4C’s Head of Content Services adds: “Wales now has a big Polish population and it seemed an obvious step to take in view of the substantial potential audience who would want to follow the Welsh commentary in their own language.”
“As an organisation that exists to serve speakers of a minority language, we’re delighted to be making broadcasting history by providing a further service to another minority group making sure they get the greatest enjoyment from a programme about their community.”
The programme highlights the fact that the influx of Polish people to Wales, though seen by many as a new development, goes back, in reality, to the period after the Second World War when many families fled their native country. Thousands have swelled Wales’s Polish population since Poland joined the European Union in 2004.
There are many differences between the first wave of Polish people who came to Wales in the 1940s and those who have arrived recently. Many of the earlier generation were escaping from Poland, whereas those who now come to Wales from Poland come of their own accord and many intend to stay only for a few years. However, both groups have a common aim also shared by the people of Wales – to pass on their language and culture to the next generation.
Among those taking part in the programme is Wrexham policeman, Keith Sinclair who has learned Polish fluently in order to communicate better with the Polish people he meets on the beat. He says that there are now almost monolingual Polish communities in Wrexham – ‘a community within a community,’ as he puts it.
The Polish subtitles are available via the Teletext service 889 (choose the ‘Welsh’ option) and via the red button on Sky (choose the ‘Welsh’ subtitles option).
S4C digidol is available outside Wales on Sky 135 and is streamed simultaneously on s4c.co.uk. O Flaen dy Lygaid: Polska Cymru will also be available to watch on-demand on s4c.co.uk/watch.
O Flaen Dy Lygad: Polska Cymru
Tuesday, 5 June, 9.00pm, S4C
Polish and English subtitles available
Repeated on Saturday, 9 June, 9.35pm.
Also available to view on broadband – s4c.co.uk/watch
A BBC Wales production for S4C