Blast from the Past; Abigail Hughes on a Drama Offering an Escape Route to Yesteryear

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Byline: Abigail Hughes

LIKE devouring a delicious meal, there is something irresistibly satisfying about curling up in an armchair to watch a grand period drama.

Maybe it's the extravagant costumes, old-fashioned dialect or larger-than-life characters, but as autumn nights draw ever darker and colder, television viewers channel hop in search of a meaty bout of on-screen escapism.

And here it is, in the form of Treflan (Small Town). Based on 19th Century novels by Daniel Owen, the drama follows the fortunes of characters from his books, Y Dreflan, Rhys Lewis and Enoc Huws at a time when the industrial revolution was forcing dramatic changes in the lives of ordinary folk.

Often described as the Welsh version of Charles Dickens, Mold-reared Daniel Owen's satirical depiction of North Walian life in Victorian times has been adapted for 21st Century audiences by a trio of programme makers.

Producer, Bangor-born Bethan Eames, worked alongside her sister, scriptwriter Manon Eames, and director Tim Lyn. ``The three of us are quite strong characters, who can quarrel with each other, accept criticism and praise where needed and still remain good friends,'' says Manon.

But the Eames sisters have not always been so keen on making history come alive. ``Neither of us liked history lessons at school, probably because of the way it was taught in those days,'' admits Bethan, a former pupil of the old Bangor Girls' Grammar School. But as the daughters of maritime historian Aled Eames, unearthing the past runs in their family. ``Our father studied history from a social viewpoint and that is the angle we enjoy - finding out about the history of ordinary people.''

With just a two-year age gap between them, the sisters have been firm friends since childhood. ``Like any siblings we had our fights, but we were brought up by our mother to share,'' says Bethan. ``Our mother was like an older sister to us and we were a very close-knit family.''

And they share a love of literature, with Bethan citing authors Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens among her favourites. ``They may be set in a different time and place but the characters often tell us something about our lives today,'' she says. …