The longest running variety show on television in Europe has clocked up another major milestone – a staggering 10 million views on its YouTube channel.
The popular S4C staple, Noson Lawen, celebrated its 40th anniversary last year and in terms of longevity its second only worldwide to a variety series on Brazilian TV, Programa Silvio Santos, which has been broadcast continually since 1963.
Over the years Noson Lawen has given a boost to the fledgling careers of some of Wales’s brightest and biggest stars, including the likes of Katherine Jenkins and Bryn Terfel.
In the early days the programme was recorded in farm barns with the acts performing on agricultural trailers with the audience sitting on straw bales.
Nowadays, the audience sits on comfortable seats in theatres, television studios and halls across Wales.
Although the look and feel of the programme have changed, the format has stayed largely the same, providing a platform for a conveyor belt of Welsh talent, with singers, choirs, musicians and comedians delivering top class entertainment.
Since 2007 Noson Lawen has been produced by the award winning production company, Cwmni Da, in Caernarfon.
The YouTube channel was established a decade ago to give the songs sung on the programme a wider audience.
According to the producer, Olwen Meredydd, the channel’s most popular video is Dafydd Iwan singing his famous anthem, Yma o Hyd, which has been watched 350,000 times.
The first video posted on the channel was operatic tenor Aled Hall from Pencader, Carmarthenshire singing the song, Noson Fel Hon (A Night Like This).
The song which has been arranged by artists the most is Anfonaf Angel (Guardian Angel) by Robat Arwyn and Hywel Gwynfryn which has been performed numerous times over the years.
Tenor Rhys Meirion’s version is by far the most well-known and has been played over 250,000 times.
Other favourites on the YouTube channel include Y Weddi (The Prayer), Ysbryd y Nos (Spirit of the Night) and the haunting tale of jilted love, Myfanwy.
Olwen said: “Each Noson Lawen programme features nine songs and these are all added to the YouTube channel so each series will see the numbers grow by about 100.
“Many of these are by up-and-coming singers and groups and we feel it helps to develop their talent and give them a wider audience.
“The Noson Lawen YouTube channel also plays a vital part of S4C’s strategy to reach out and find new audiences on digital platform. It’s one of the most popular Welsh language YouTube channels in the world!
“It’s clear from the comments on the YouTube channel that many of the people watching the videos are non-Welsh speakers living outside Wales and not regular S4C viewers.”
The Cwmni Da production team has recently finished filming the next series of Noson Lawen which will be broadcast in the autumn.
It will feature programmes highlighting the talents of those who hail from the counties of Anglesey, Conwy and Denbighshire.
There will also be a programme featuring the songs of the late Alun ‘Sbardun’ Huws, with special arrangements of some of his best-known songs being performed by Bryn Fôn, Pedair, Elidyr Glyn and Lleucu Gwawr.
Another programme in the series will celebrate Christmas with the cast of another S4C programme, the popular soap, Rownd a Rownd.
Cwmni Da managing director Llion Iwan said: “We are incredibly proud to be the torch bearers for the television legend that is Noson Lawen.
“It’s an iconic series and a programme that appeals to people of all backgrounds and all ages.
“While the look of the show has evolved, the team here at Cwmni Da has been able to retain the magical essence of the format to ensure that it remains as popular as ever with the traditional audience.
“But more than that Noson Lawen is now also reaching out to new viewers and clocking up 10 million views on our YouTube channel is a notable achievement.
“The fact that Noson Lawen is the second longest running variety programme that’s currently being broadcast anywhere in the world is testament to its enduring popularity. Long may it continue.”
S4C’s Head of Entertainment, Elen Rhys, said: “We are so proud of this series. This is one of the channel’s most popular and familiar brands which gives a platform to familiar and new talents across Wales. This news is fantastic and such an important resource for Wales and beyond.”
The Noson Lawen channel can be found on YouTube at www.youtube.com/nosonlawen