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TWW's Land of Song: A legendary Welsh TV show watched by 10 million people

As we mark 60 years of independent television in Wales, we look back of one of its earliest hits.

Gwlad y Gan/Land of Song was one of TWW's biggest productions.

Broadcast live from the Pontcanna studios, it attracted audiences of up to 10 million people.

Watch my special report from Wales at Six below:

Very little of the show remains - with only a 10 minute excerpt and various film inserts in the ITV Wales archive.

Anne Bunford and her husband were among the singers recruited for the show.

Both teachers in Cardiff, they helped assemble the Pontcanna Children's Choir who performed on the programme.

Although some of us were trained musicians, we had jobs as well. Most of the choristers had other occupations. The men from the Rhondda, one was a dustman. One had a tyre factory.

You'd go into school, and the girls, because I taught in a girls' school, ooh Miss! I liked your dress Miss! Nothing about the singing!

– Anne Bunford

The ITV Wales/TWW/HTV archive is now stored at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth - a collection comprised of an estimated 250,000 items.

A small section of the archive in Aberystwyth

It's been housed there since 2014, after ITV Wales moved from Culverhouse Cross to its modern facilities in Cardiff Bay.

Part of the challenge of looking after the collection is that it's very old now and very fragile. Luckily the library have a team of fantastic experts who know how to preserve film and how to look after it.

– Owain Meredith, ITV Wales archivist

The collection is being preserved by archivists at the library, and made available for the public to view.

A familiar logo on a can of film

Now, I should reveal another reason for my interest in Land of Song.

My late grandfather, Denis Griffiths, was a regular on the show.

An engineer by trade, he was one of many experienced semi-professional singers recruited by TWW.

Denis Griffiths, in the early 1950s

The surviving footage has been shown on numerous ITV Wales and HTV archive programmes, but few other details about it are known - such as the date for example!

There's also a second question - whether any more could survive.

Denis Griffiths (left), alongside the show's star Ivor Emmanuel

My uncle, Peter Griffiths, is researching the history of the show.

He and the archive team hope to be able to find an accurate date for the broadcast, as well as identifying the majority of the members of the cast.

They were doing this stuff for the very first time - crossing from OBs to films to studios. And Ivor's just a classic stage performer - full of theatrical confidence!

– Peter Griffiths

The original film is missing, but the surviving elements date from a compilation tape prepared by TWW circa 1960.

Watch the footage below:

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