An outspoken pensioner from Gwynedd is proving to be a sparky performer on TV.
Retired electrician John Williams, 79, from Porthmadog, has gained celebrity status with his hilarious, unvarnished views on the Welsh language version of Gogglebox.
He’s teamed up with his 24 year old grandson, Cian, for S4C’s new hit show, Gogglebocs Cymru, that goes out on Wednesday nights at 9pm.
TV location manager Cian admits it’s his grandad who’s getting the lion’s share of the attention from the viewing public.
He said: “My grandad’s a local character and is already well-known around Porthmadog. He’s known for his humour and it’s nice to share a bit of it because I always think he’s a wasted talent.
“I normally get heckled locally about grandad and what he’s up to anyway. One person asked me the other day how it feels to live in my grandad’s shadow! There’s no doubt about it, he’s definitely the ‘favourite’ out of the both of us.”
John has a reputation for saying what he thinks which can leave his grandson sitting on the edge of his seat at times.
“With the nature of his age, sometimes he has a different view of the world than I do – I’m so glad it’s not live! Otherwise, he has been on his best behaviour and I do warn him a little before he starts filming!” admitted Cian.
“Wherever you are, it’s nice to look through people’s windows. The show’s not scripted and so people get to know you and when they do like you, it’s because of who you are.
“There’s a real mix from people learning Welsh to those who use it as a first language. It’s a great confidence boost for the people learning Welsh and for the people learning and watching this back home – I’ve seen lots of people on Twitter saying they’ve been watching Gogglebocs because they feel it makes it easier to learn the Welsh language.”
S4C commissioned independent production firms Cwmni Da and Chwarel, both based in North Wales, to co-produce the first ever Welsh language version of Channel 4’s and Studio Lambert’s top-rated format in the autumn.
The inaugural show was broadcast in the first week of November with the new series hitting screens on Wednesday, January 4, after the celebrity special on December 28.
It is the first time Studio Lambert and Channel 4 have licensed the franchise to another UK-based broadcaster.
Series producer Huw Maredudd said the show was already going down well with viewers.
“The first block was very successful and popular thanks in no small part to our cast and all the hard work of the crews,” he said.
“Obviously we were trying to represent as broad a spectrum of the Welsh community as possible and so we have people of all ages from John in his 70s through to our youngest cast member, Olivia, who’s 16.
“It feels as if we are watching with them, so they’ve really come into their own, and they’ve all enjoyed the experience which is the most important thing. We get to enjoy them enjoying themselves as viewers at home.
“A lot of work went into making sure the entire cast complemented each other and that they all worked on their own individually as well as a full patchwork too.
“Yes, we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to be involved but they also had to justify their place. We didn’t treat anyone any differently to anyone else, they are there because they are funny and bubbly and part of everyday Welsh life.
“Hopefully, we’ll be back later in the year with a cast I hope will have become old friends to the audience by then. We’re looking forward to doing a lot more.”
Gogglebocs cast member Glain Jones and partner of 14 years Dafydd Jones, from Denbigh, have also had to share the limelight – with their pet dog Tecwyn.
“Everyone likes Tecwyn – I actually think they like the dog more than us,” admitted 62-year-old Glain, who works part-time assessing carers for the North East Wales Carers Information Service (NEWCIS).
“He’s a white Bichon Westie and is the star of the show. We’ve been cleaning his teeth on the programme as he had to have some removed and putting his Christmas coat on – he sits in between us and when he gets bored he goes off into the corner.”
Glain, who grew up on a farm and has lived in Denbigh for the past 40 years, said she had applied to the show after her partner retired from a part-time job driving children to a local school.
“We hardly ever agree on anything. I like something, he likes other things,” she said.
“We thought that combination would be good for the show. That hasn’t really come across yet but the more shows we do the more comfortable we’ll be.
“Dafydd works part-time on the estate’s corner shop, Siop y Parc, and has had people coming up and asking for his autograph. It’s tongue and cheek really although when I was in M&S in Ellesmere Port, I rang Dafydd in the queue to ask where he was in Welsh and a woman in front of me turned around and said ‘is your name Glain and are you on Gogglebocs’? She recognised my voice which is very random.
“With the show being in Welsh, you have to be careful. Wales is a small, close-knit community and I’ve got such an unusual name, that doesn’t help. You could be vilified on Twitter talking about a decent Welsh person!”
Gogglebocs Cymru can be seen on S4C at 9pm on Wednesdays.