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Wales Online
Wales Online
Andrew Forgrave

BBC Countryfile has viewers 'in agony' at Welsh pronunciations

BBC viewers in Wales listened with a grimace as Welsh place names were butchered on a popular show.

Countryfile was in Snowdonia to show how the area is paying a high price for its growing popularity but within the first few minutes viewers in Wales were distracted by some very peculiar pronunciations of “Yr Wyddfa” by presenters Matt Baker and Joe Crowley.

They offered two very different takes on Snowdon's Welsh name, North Wales Live reports, with Joe venturing “Air Widd-ffar” while Matt offered something like “Uh Hoy-fa” as they examined issues ranging from littering to micro-plastics and footpath repairs.

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During the show, aggrieved viewers took to social media to comment: “My word they’re really mangling the Welsh names on #countryfile!” said one, while another said: “Countryfile, the Welsh name for Snowdon is not Air Widd-ffar. How hard is it to check with a local?"

During the programme, Matt also ventured a reasonable attempt at Llyn Tegid, though it came out as “Llyn Teged”.

One person said the efforts showed “disrespect” towards Wales and the Welsh language and prompted several to call on the BBC to train up their presenters before they cross the border.

“Does the BBC not have anyone who can tell reporters/presenters how to pronounce Welsh - or any other language - correctly?” said one viewer. “Listening in agony to Countryfile presenter mangling Yr Wyddfa. It’s not a lot to ask.”

Another said the pronunciations took the shine off her enjoyment of the show: “Please could BBC Countryfile try and improve their pronunciation of Welsh names?” she said. “I was enjoying the feature on #snowdonia but the attempt at Yr Wyddfa was about the worse I have ever heard.”

But there were also those who commended Countryfile for at least attempting to use original Welsh names.

A motion for Wales’ highest peak to only be referred to as Yr Wyddfa was defeated last year. Instead, councillors in Gwynedd and Conwy have set up a working group to consider future policy on Welsh place names.

The BBC said it had made a conscious effort to use Welsh place names in the programme - even if things didn't quite go to plan.

A spokesperson said: “We felt it was important to use the Welsh language names for the locations featured in the programme and the presenters were coached to help with their pronunciation. We’re sorry if we didn’t get it right this time.”

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And there was also a much more positive viewer reaction to Countryfile's decision to feature Fiona, a Welsh language storyteller. In a section on Snowdonia’s dark skies initiative, she retold the story of how agriculture came to Wales. Several viewers said it was great to hear Welsh being spoken on network TV, with one saying: “It was pretty huge to hear so much Welsh language on a national TV show. Diolch Countryfile!”

When promoting Countryfile’s Snowdonia programme on Twitter, the BBC made another language error, spelling Snowdon as “Yr Wydffa”.

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