A tattooed vicar who loves make-up and false eyelashes is aiming to give viewers a slice of TV heaven on the Welsh version of Gogglebox.
The Rev. Kirstie Griffiths, the unconventional cleric from Carmarthen, is among the newcomers on the second series of the hit S4C show, Gogglebocs Cymru.
Joining her on the sofa is her sister, Annaly Jones, 42, who’s also from Carmarthen.
Fifty-year-old Kirstie, who is married to a professional tattooist, got her first tattoo at the age of 35, a decade before deciding to train as a vicar, and enjoys nothing better than dressing herself up in glamourous make-up including false lashes.
Now adorned with a full sleeve of tattoos that includes flowered crosses, her daughters’ names, and the Japanese Princess Mononoke – from the epic animated fantasy film – the mum-of-two hopes audiences will embrace her as kindly as her parishioners.
The first six shows are being shown at 9pm on Wednesday nights in October and November before taking a break and returning for a celebrity Christmas version on December 27 and a further eight episodes from February 14 next year, with the programmes being once again narrated by comedian and broadcaster Tudur Owen.
Kirstie said: “I’m definitely a bit of an anomaly but I think everyone is accepted at the table with God.
“It’s not about being perfect, it’s about love and acceptance. Even the disciples got it wrong – they ran away at the crucifixion.
“I think people may have been a little ‘oh gosh, what do we have here then’ when they’ve met me initially, but they have been so loving and kind and have taken me to their hearts.
“They’ve always supported me, even when I’ve made mistakes – including the time I thought there was a spider in the communion chalice – it was actually one of my false eyelashes!
“I love the art of tattoos and my husband is so talented. God says he has our names inscribed in the palm of his hands and I find that when I’m walking in my collar with my sleeves rolled up, it’s a conversation starter.
“People come up to chat to me about it and I really enjoy talking to people about what the church really is. I’ve met some lovely people because of it.”
Kirstie hopes viewers will be equally as forgiving with her struggles learning the Welsh language.
“I need to get my Welsh up to scratch as I’d like to take more services in Welsh,” she said.
“I’ve taken a couple of Welsh services before and have got a few things mixed up including the Welsh words for ‘big’ (mawr) and ‘dead’ (marw) – there were a few giggles at that one, but the worshippers really encourage me to learn.”
Kirstie, who has two teenage daughters and two stepdaughters, serves the 12 parish churches in Carmarthen including her named church of Llangunnor. She began her distance learning at St Padarn’s Institute in Cardiff around six years ago.
“When my children were younger, I was looking at them one day and remembered how I used to go around as a child saying ‘God Bless You’ to everyone in Woolworths. My parents were believers but not particularly religious, so they were scratching their heads wondering where this was all coming from,” she said.
“At the point where I dressed up as Mary and pretended to give birth to Baby Jesus (my Tiny Tears doll) my mum said: ‘We’d better find her a Sunday School!’
“My sister and I know each other very well. We find each other very funny but I don’t know if anybody else will! Annaly is the only person who can bring me to the kind of laughter where it hurts and you’re crying – we sit laughing at the silliest of things.
“She’s fluent in Welsh as we went to different schools. I was a bit worried my Welsh wasn’t good enough, but I really wanted to show that vicars are a normal bunch!”
Annaly, an inclusion supervisor at Queen Elizabeth High in Carmarthen, says viewers will be in for a treat if the pair are shown any steamy scenes.
“Believe it or not my sister’s a little, shall we say, prudish. I love nothing better than watching her squirm! She’s funny like that!” said the mum, who has three teenage sons.
“She’s definitely ‘the sensible one’ and thinks about things first whereas I just do it. Also, my face gives everything away.
“We both like funny things. We laugh at the stupidest of things. Kirstie has the cheesiest jokes. She tells her jokes to the school kids and they’re dying with embarrassment!
“I think we work quite well together. We’re sisters and we know how each other’s mind works but at the same time, I’m shocked we got through.”
The show, nominated for a BAFTA Cymru award, is made by two Gwynedd-based television production companies, Cwmni Da, in Caernarfon, and Chwarel, from Cricieth.
It is the first time Studio Lambert and Channel 4 have licensed the Gogglebox franchise to another UK-based broadcaster.
In the second series, the run has been extended from 11 to 15 episodes which will be broadcast in two blocks.
In addition, there are five more groups – families and friends – this year, giving producers an ever-greater spread of opinion across a wide range of programmes.
Other new faces include married couple Helen and Carwyn Evans, from Blaenwaun, Whitland, Carmarthenshire, and their 18-year-old daughter Ceirian, who is saving money to travel the world.
Producer Huw Maredudd, from Cwmni Da, said the team was looking forward to laughing and crying again with both the new and returning households.
“The show was very well received with lots of traction and attention on social media. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and of course the BAFTA nomination from our peers showed appreciation for what we’d achieved on a professional level,” he said.
“Everybody I have spoken to has a different favourite; some like John from Porthmadog and others like Marcus and Vicki because they’re so colourful.
“This series is longer which is a reflection of how much people have taken to these characters and the programme.
“We’re very proud of all the different people that we managed to find and now we’re back even bigger and better and will be reaching out even wider and showing even more diversity and expanding the range of shows.”
Sioned Wyn, Director of Chwarel, added: “It’s groundbreaking. Not only are people discovering S4C content that perhaps they wouldn’t have watched before, for the GoggleBocs’ contributors themselves it has been pretty life changing,” she said.
“Everybody has found it pretty life-affirming and transformative, and their confidence has improved. People are already getting recognised and are being asked for their autographs – they’re loving every minute of it.
“We are also bringing people to S4C who were not there before. We are a wide and varied society, and we try to go to all regions of Wales from Wrexham and the Valleys to Pembrokeshire and Mid-Wales.
“It’s been one of the most inspirational shows I’ve ever worked on. The figures speak for themselves – we quadrupled the viewing figures for that slot. The next challenge will be to keep it fresh.”
Starting at 9pm on S4C on Wednesday, October 18, the first six shows will be broadcast in October and November before taking a break and returning for a celebrity Christmas version on December 27 and a further eight episodes from February 14 next year, with the programmes being once again narrated by comedian and broadcaster Tudur Owen. English subtitles will be available and the programme can also be viewed on S4C Clic, BBC iPlayer and other streaming