Can i Gymru
Radio commentator: Magi Dodd (2007-8)
BBC Cymru Wales/HTV Cymru Wales (alternating: 1969-1982)
Production companies for S4C include:
Avanti/The Pop Factory
BBC Radio Cymru (2007-8?)
The birth of this annual St. David's Day spectacular came about when the Entertainment Department of BBC Cymru explored the possibility of choosing a Welsh language song to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. They seemed quite confident about the prospect up until the moment when management in London decreed that the British Broadcasting Corporation can only allow for one entry.
Thus, they settled on doing their own contest - Can Disg a Dawn, a competition based around the Welsh language pop show Disg a Dawn (as seen on Victor Lewis Smith's TV Offal). Some 40 years on and a subtle name change later, Can i Gymru (Song for Wales) remains a highlight of St. David's Day on Welsh television (or as near to the day as they can get, at least).
The format has varied over the years - in recent years, nine songs have made up the contest (having been chosen from a total of over 100 entries a month beforehand) and these have been split into 3 categories – professional songwriters, band or individual performers and public. The winners from those groups went through to a final sing-off which led to a viewer phone vote. By 2010, a straight forward sing-off involving eight songs would be decided by both judges and viewers votes.
The victors claim a £10,000 cheque and go onto Celtavision, held in Ireland every year during the Pan-Celtic Festival...which is not televised. Many Welsh songs have won Celtavision down the years but hardly anyone in Wales will know if the Can i Gymru is the all-Celtic winner! Well, you can't have everything.
Down the years
Winning songs in the first 8 contests always seem to have a degree of gentleness. Bran's Angel Ble Wyt Ti increased the tempo slightly in 1978 but this was short lived as gentle songs returned to glory for several years, with perhaps a couple of exceptions such as Geraint Griffiths's powerful ballad Y Cwm from 1984.
Twll Triongl in 1989 seemed to be the first upbeat winner of the contest. Another jaunty hit was Gwlad y Rasta Gwyn by Sobin a'r Smaeliad the following year (the lead singer, Bryn Fon would win the contest by himself in 1997). This signalled the beginning of a more varied choice of winner. One year, a pop-based number like 2002's Harbwr Diogel by Elin Fflur (for whom, it proved to be the catalyst for a successful career) would be chosen and the next year, a soppy duet such as Oes Lle i Mi would take the honours.
List of winners
1969: Y Cwilt Cymreig - Margaret Williams
1970: Dydd o Haf - Y Canolwyr
1971: Nwy yn y Hen - Eleri Llwyd
1972: Pan Ddaw'r Dydd - Heather Jones
1974: I Gael Cymru'n Gymru Rydd - Iris Williams
1975: Caledfwlch - Bran
1976: Y Llanc Glas Lygad - Rhian Rowe
1977: Dafydd ap Gwilym - Cawl Sefin
1978: Angel Ble Wyt Ti - Delwyn Sion a Bran
1979: Ni Welaf yr Haf - Pererin
1980: Golau Tan Gwmwl - Plethyn
1981: Dechrau Dyfodol - Beca
1982: Nid Llwynog Oedd yr Haul - Caryl Parry Jones a Bando
1983: Popeth Ond Y Gwir - Linda Healy a Cleif Harpwood
1984: Y Cwm - Geraint Griffiths
1985: Ceiliog y Gwynt - Bwchdanas
1986: Be Ddylwn i Ddweud - Eirlys Parri
1987: Gloria Tyrd Adre - Eryr Wen
1988: Can Wini - Manon Llwyd
1989: Twll Triongl - Hefin Huws
1990: Gwlad y Rasta Gwyn - Sobin a'r Smaeliaid
1991: Yr Un Hen Le - Neil Williams a'r Band
1992: Dal i Gredu - Eifion Williams
1993: Y Cam Nesa - Paul Gregory
1994: Rhyw Ddydd - Geraint Griffiths
1995: Yr Ynys Werdd - Gwenda Owen
1996: Cerrig yr Afon - Iwcs a Doyle
1997: Un Funud Fach - Bryn Fon
1998: Rho Dy Law - Arwel Wyn Roberts
1999: Torri'n Rhydd - Steffan Rhys Williams
2000: Cae o Yd - Martin Beattie
2001: Dagrau Ddoe - Geinor Haf
2002: Harbwr Diogel - Elin Fflur
2003: Oes Lle i Mi - Non Parry & Steffan Rhys Williams
2004: Dagrau Tawel - Rhian Mair Lewis
2005: Mi Glywais - Rhydian Bowen Philips
2006: Llii’r Nos - Ryland Teifi
2007: Blwyddyn Mas – Einir Dafydd
2008: Atgofion - Aled Myrddin
2009: Gofidiau - Elfed Morgan Morris
2010: Bws i'r Lleuad - Tomos Wyn
2011: Rhywun yn Rhywle - Tesni Jones
2012: Braf yw Cael Byw - Gai Toms & Philip Jones
2013: Mynd i Gorwen Hefo Alys - Jessop a'r Sgweiri
2014: Galw amdanat ti - Barry & Mirian Evans
2015: Y Lleuad a'r Ser - Elin Angharad and Arfon Wyn
2016: Dim ond Un - Cordia
2017: Rhydd - Cadi Gwyn Edwards
N.B. There was no contest held in 1973.
For quite a while, the contest was held at Afan Lido Leisure Centre in Port Talbot (which was latterly burnt down and deemed beyond repair). In 2009, the shebang moved to the slightly more interesting Venue Cymru arena (the old North Wales Theatre) in Llandudno. It moved again for the 2011 contest to the Pontrhydfendigaid Pavilion in Ceredigion, making its Cardiff debut in 2013 at the Coal Exchange, and the Anglesea Pavilion in 2014.
2007's contest was the first to not take place on St. David's Day. It was held the day after instead.
Radio coverage was introduced fairly lately - in 2007, this consisted of a basic commentary/analysis affair from studios in Cardiff and Bangor with presenters from Radio Cymru's youth strand, C2. The radio coverage did not return in 2009 (mainly because of Radio Cymru's sacrosanct Sunday night schedule of listeners' requests and Y Talwrn).
Geraint Griffiths - 1984 and 1994
Bryn Fon - 1990 (with Sobin a'i Smaeliad) and 1997
Steffan Rhys Williams - 1999 and 2003 (with Non Parry)
In 2003, there were special preview programmes where viewers were shown all the entrants from a category (one per programme). However by 2004, the previews were relegated into the Planed Plant childrens' strand and linked by PP's continuity team.
As part of a recent trend at S4C, production of Can i Gymru has been tendered out on two-year contracts (think of it as like an ITV franchise round without all the harumph about highest bidders and quality thresholds). 2008's tendering round proved to be pointless in some degree - as the then-current producers Avanti won back the contract.
From 2009 onwards, a non-finalist entry has been chosen as the winner of a special Jury prize for creativity worth £500 (with ten runners-up prizes of £100).
Offical site in Welsh and English