Rediscovering a Festive TV Gem: ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’


Amidst the plethora of holiday television specials, one particular gem often goes unnoticed, yet it deserves a revered spot in our collective festive consciousness. A Child’s Christmas in Wales, first broadcast on BBC Four in 2009, is a comedy-drama that brilliantly encapsulates the essence of family gatherings during the festive season, inspired by the evocative work of Dylan Thomas.

The show is a rich montage of idyllic, colourful Christmas memories, contrasting the poetic ideal with the less-than-perfect reality of family life. Set in a terraced house in Eighties South Wales, it revolves around young Owen Rhys and his family, whose Christmas peace is perennially disrupted by the arrival of eccentric relatives. The one-off episode masterfully portrays the growth of Owen and his cousin Maurice from boys to young men, amidst the backdrop of family squabbles and comedic chaos.

The holiday routine in Owen’s home remains unchanged through the years: his father and uncle engage in petty bickering, the children unwittingly act out their parents’ rivalries, and the arrival of the black sheep of the family, Uncle Gorwel, inevitably leads to humorous mishaps. However, beneath the veneer of antagonism lies a heartwarming realization – that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without these family gatherings.

Despite its brilliance, A Child’s Christmas in Wales is not as frequently revisited as other holiday classics. This delightful, yet often overlooked, portrayal of family dynamics during the holidays, with a stellar cast including Ruth Jones and Paul Kaye, directed by Christine Gernon, and written by Mark Watson, deserves a resurgence in popularity. It’s a poignant reminder of the joy, chaos, and peculiar warmth that family brings to the festive season. As we celebrate the holidays, let’s take a moment to remember and re-appreciate this TV gem, which so beautifully captures the essence of a family Christmas.

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