To celebrate a proper Welsh Mother’s Day, we’ve taken a look at some of the most famous Welsh mothers to have appeared on screens.
From films to sitcoms to cartoons, there have been many classic Welsh mums to keep us entertained over the years. And yes, I did say “mothers” instead of “mothers,” despite what some said earlier this month when thousands responded to a question that sparked heated debate. You can read more about it here.
Whatever you call them, below is a list of some of the most well-known that have made their mark on Welsh popular culture over the years, from the obvious to some that some may have forgotten. Technically, some of the fictional characters aren’t even mothers, but that doesn’t stop them from being mothers to the people in their lives.
Pobol y Cwm has been on S4C since the channel launched in 1982, and in that time it’s hard to imagine a more memorable character than Kath Jones, played by Welsh actress Siw Hughes.
Kath first appeared on the Welsh-language soap opera in 1993 and initially left Cwmderi in 2007. She returned to the show in 2014 and again in 2017 and remains a part of it to this day.
She’s best known for trying to keep her wayward son, Mark Jones, in check for the last 25 years or so.
Nessa Vanessa Shanessa Jenkins could appear in any list with the word “iconic” in the title. Forget Mams or Welsh characters, she’s certainly one of the most iconic screen characters of the last 30 years.
Played by Ruth Jones, who co-wrote with James Corden Gavin & Stacey, Nessa made Wales and the rest of the UK laugh for three full series and two Christmas specials.
First as Stacey’s well-travelled, slightly mysterious and bitter best friend, and later as the devoted if unconventional mother of “Neil the Baby”.
Ah, Dilys Price, also known as the long-suffering mother of the naughtiest fictional character in Welsh history, Norman Price. Dilys lives in the Welsh cartoon village of Pontypandy and has run the local shop since the series began in 1987.
However, her full-time job has always been after her lurid son, who, despite his lack of arson tendencies, manages to start most of the fires, which the eponymous hero, Fireman Sam, is called upon to put out.
But for all his suffering, Norman’s mother still gushes about him in her apron and refers to him as her “little darling”. A classic Welsh mother who would grace any generation.
Read more: The Money Saving Expert’s 10 Cheap Or Free Mother’s Day Activities
Well, not everyone will remember Maureen Rees, but for those who do, it’s impossible to forget her. Maureen, then in her mid to late 50s, appeared on the BBC reality show Driving School.
Before the age of streaming services or even widespread digital television, she appeared in several episodes in front of more than 10 million viewers.
She took driving lessons from her husband, which often ended in disaster, and failed her driving test six times before finally passing her place in the hearts of the nation in 1997.
Because Nessa is more of a Hellraiser than a conventional mother on Gavin & Stacey, the matriarchal role on the hit sitcom is instead filled by Gwen. Gwen, the mother of Stacey and Jason, more or less the mother of Nessa, is never happier than when she makes home the place she is meant to be for her family.
This usually involves fiddling with a duster and asking everyone who enters the house if they’d like an omelet.
Gwen’s qualities as a Welsh mother, played by Welsh actress Melanie Walters, are highlighted at the end of series three when Nessa says she tells people she’s their mother when asked about all the love she has has received over the years. She follows that with a kiss on the lips, much to Gwen’s amazement/embarrassment.
It’s hard to believe that Satellite City has been off our screens for more than two decades, but for anyone who saw it in the 1990s, it will have left an indelible mark on their perception of Valleys culture and humor .
The sitcom, which ran over three series, revolved around Gwynne, his father Idris and his wife Moira, along with an American lodger named Randy.
Moira and Gwynne had no children, but the former (played by Welsh actress Ri Richards) was basically a mother to her whole house – her husband, father-in-law, houseguest and everyone else who came home at Price’s. Every Welsh village has a moira.
Sali Mali has been a popular fictional character in Wales since her creation in the 1960s. Thousands of children of different generations have learned to read with Sali Mali, and in 1994 a pre-school TV series was made for S4C, further cementing her legendary status.
Then, in 2000, an animated series was filmed, which was later broadcast on Channel 4. To prove old Sali’s appeal, the show was narrated by Rhys Ifans and the theme song was sung by Catatonia’s Cerys Matthews.
The name Jean Lewis may not appeal to many on first hearing, but when you put it next to the words “Lewis Twins” or “Fatty’s Boys” it suddenly takes on a different meaning.
Jean is the classic Welsh mother in the hit 1997 film Twin Town, set in and around Port Talbot and Swansea. The wife of “Fatty Lewis” and mother of Julian and Jeremy Lewis (The Lewis’s) spends most of her time falling in love with her husband and trying to keep her twin sons, who do drugs, steal cars and spoil the game of rugby, from falling in love effort, without much success.
Her character tragically dies in a caravan fire before the film’s third act, but she made enough of an impact in some scenes to be an iconic Welsh mother, thanks to memorable lines like: “Bath, feed Cantona, and leave your father’s glue alone.”
This is the mother from the 1941 Hollywood film How Green Was My Valley. It tells the story of a hard working mining family living in a Welsh village. Based on a book by Richard Llewellyn, the film was nominated for ten Oscars and won five.
One of the film’s main characters is Beth Morgan, the mother of the Morgan family and someone described by her son as “the heart of the house”.
Beth Morgan was played by Irish actress Sara Allgood, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.
Elsie “Mama” Hepplewhite
High Hopes was created by the man behind Satellite City, and many of the same traits typical of the Welsh working-class family can be seen.
Chief among them is a powerful woman who keeps her family together and a tidy house while the men in her life tend to mess things up. Elsie was played by the late, great Margaret John, who, after High Hopes, later rose to fame as Doris in Gavin & Stacey.
Faith is the central character and heroine in the critically acclaimed drama Keeping Faith, produced by the BBC and S4C and first broadcast in 2017.
It tells the story of a mother of three whose life is turned upside down when her husband mysteriously disappears without explanation and she must fight for the truth while raising her children single-handedly.
The popular drama was filmed in several locations across Wales, mainly in Carmarthenshire, and ran for a total of three series. The actress who portrayed Faith, Eve Myles, studied Welsh specifically for the Welsh language version (Un Bore Mercher) which aired on S4C and filmed every scene in both Welsh and English. She won a Welsh BAFTA for her performance in 2018.
The Tuckers first aired on the BBC two years ago, but in just 12 episodes, the Tuckers’ mother and head of family, Peggy, played by Lynn Hunter, has made a mark on TV viewers.
Glyn’s mother, Bobby and Billy’s grandmother and Murphy’s sister, ‘old Peg’, spends her days making sure the boys who live in her house/yard don’t fall out, too getting in a lot of trouble or being left out of pocket while at the same time making money for the family herself by “knocking” or pretending to slip on wet floors in supermarkets.
“Leave that to old Peg.”
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