​Celebrating Dai – end of an era for one of S4C's top stars

17 December 2020

'A lump of Welsh gold' - these are the words author and broadcaster Lyn Ebenezer uses to describe his lifelong friend Dai Jones Llanilar, who has been one of S4C's best-known icons for many decades.

It is difficult to believe that it is 50 years since Dai first stepped into the public eye after winning the Blue Riband in the Ammanford National Eisteddfod in 1970.

In a special programme, Dathu Dai (Celebrating Dai) on 1 January 2021 at 8pm on S4C, we celebrate Dai Jones's enormous contribution to country life and broadcasting.

We are reminded of the myriad of programmes in which Dai has played a central role including Sion a Sian, Noson Lawen, Rasus, Y Sioe Fawr and Cefn Gwlad of which he has been at the helm since 1983.

As well as sharing classics from the archive, Dai's friends and colleagues will be sharing some of their favourite stories and memories of the colourful character who brings a smile to the faces of everybody he meets.

"The magic of Dai is that what you see is what you get – both on and off screen," said the presenter Elinor Jones who has worked side by side with Dai on many occasions.

"Dai is the countryside and the countryside is Dai. There is no doubt that he is the biggest asset S4C has ever had."

We also hear from Welsh Senedd Presiding Officer Elin Jones, the television producer John Watkin, the radio broadcaster Geraint Lloyd, the presenter Ifan Jones Evans, the singer Trebor Edwards and some of the families who have starred in Cefn Gwlad with Dai – each one with their own unique story about Dai's loveable personality.

As Dai decides to retire following a long spell of illness, and says goodbye to television work, we re-live some of the classic and most memorable clips which are certain to raise a smile and bring back memories. Dai thanks everybody for all the support he's had during his career:

"I would like to thank everybody for welcoming me into their homes and lives over the years," said Dai.

"For half a century I have had the honour of opening the door on all the treasures of the Welsh countryside – the characters, the communities and not forgetting livestock of the highest standard. I have had a whale of a time and consider myself a very lucky man to have been able to do this for so long."

"But the time has finally come to hang up my wellies. You're a millionaire if you have good health, and this is truer now than ever.

Dai Jones Llanilar

"I've said it many times – it is the young people who are the future of our countryside. I hope they get the same opportunities now as I did when I started on my great adventure.

"Thanks to everybody for sharing that journey with me – thanks for the good times, the welcome and the joy – it has been a balm to the soul, and the memories are those I will treasure forever," said Dai.

Amanda Rees, S4C's Director of Content also acknowledges Dai's huge contribution to the channel:

"There is no doubt about it, when it comes to the list of Wales's best broadcasters, Dai Jones, Llanilar is at the top.

"He has a natural talent for getting the best out of people, using his wit and natural warmth to introduce so many unforgettable characters to us during his career.

"In Cefn Gwlad, he created a unique brand, creating a sensitive portrayal of the people that he met without using conventional interview techniques.

"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Dai for your priceless contribution and for bringing a smile to the faces of us, the viewers, throughout the decades," said Amanda.

S4C will continue to bring viewers stories about the countryside with Ifan Jones Evans and Mari Lovgreen at the helm with Rhys Lewis, Meleri Williams and Ioan Doyle also part of the team.

And with Dai having presented the show for so many years, he is always happy to offer his advice. According to the presenter Ifan Jones Evans:

"It was a huge honour for me to have the opportunity to present with Dai. He was someone I had watched on Cefn Gwlad as a child.

"I remember the first programme from Tir Prince and asking Dai some quarter of an hour before we went on air 'do you have any advice for me, Dai?'

'Remember to change your pants after you come off air!'"

Dathlu Dai

1 January 2021, 8.00 pm

English subtitles available

On demand: S4C Clic, iPlayer and other platforms

A Slam Media and ITV Cymru production for S4C

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