On St David's Day S4C will start on an epic journey to try to answer the question 'Who are the Welsh?' with the documentary DNA Cymru as an introduction to a milestone series to be broadcast in the autumn.
From the earliest days the Welsh have asked big questions like 'Who are we?' 'Where did we come from?' 'What connects us with the rest of the world's people?' 'What makes us different?'
The S4C series DNA Cymru will set out to answer the questions by using DNA samples from the people of Wales today. The series is part of an exciting project Cymru DNA Wales set up in a partnership between S4C, CymruDNAWales, Trinity Mirror - publishers of the Western Mail and the Daily Post – and production company Green Bay Media.
In the series DNA Cymru, presenters Beti George, Dr Anwen Jones and Jason Mohammad will be explaining how the science of DNA can reveal genetic blueprints that stretch back beyond recorded history.
The project's aim is to conduct the biggest survey ever of ancestral DNA present in today's Welsh population. This is done through samples of saliva. The series will also use ancestral DNA to try to answer historical questions.
Viewers will be invited to follow civilisation's journey from its origins in Africa to the earliest populations of the land we now know as Wales, right up to the inhabitants of today’s Wales. During the series members of the public and well-known personalities will be discovering their roots in the long distant past. Four familiar names – Bryn Terfel, Gareth Edwards, Dafydd Iwan and Sian Lloyd – discover their origins in the St David's Day one-off special.
In the programme, Jason Mohammad explains how genetic markers occur across generations; Dr Anwen Jones shows how DNA analysis can reveal our ancient lineages and Beti George will be in Tanzania explaining that ultimately the birthplace of the Welsh people can be traced to Africa.
The CymruDNAWales venture is the brainchild of S4C Chief Executive, Ian Jones who went on to discuss the idea with the successful Scottish research company responsible for ScotlandsDNA.
Ian Jones said: "S4C is proud to be a principal partner in a ground-breaking project which will literally rewrite the history of Wales and the British Isles. This project is an integral part of our dynamic multi-platform strategy and by working with a range of forward-looking organisations, we are helping to create a legacy that will last as long as our nation and culture live and thrive.”
The series producers are Green Bay Media. Series editor, John Geraint says, “This is an epic story of a people’s journey through history. We’ll have revelations about the genetic heritage of some real Welsh icons, as we trace the amazing story of who the Welsh are and where we have come from."
The first programme will be followed by the series in the autumn. Meanwhile you can discover more about the project by visiting http://www.s4c.co.uk/cymrudnawales/e_index.shtml
Watch DNA Cymru on S4C, Sunday 1 March 8.00 (English subtitles).