Documentary Series Spotlighting the Work of the National Trust in Wales
NATIONAL TREASURES OF WALES could be seen as a travelogue, alerting viewers to the sheer range of properties and land owned by the National Trust in Wales. From over five hundred miles of coastline, to great houses such as Plas Newydd in Anglesey, the Trust protects as well as conserves, even if it means an occasional bout of remodeling (or even demolition). What renders their work even more laudable is that the Trust receives absolutely no subsidy from central government; their resources mostly stem from membership fees and other revenues generated from special events.
In the first episode in particular it seemed as if presenter Griff Rhys Jones was going to impose himself on the material through a somewhat strident style of presentation; there were too many shots of him striding across the rolling Welsh coastline commenting direct to camera. As the series progresses, however, so Rhys Jones recedes into the background, giving members of the Trust from the regional director downwards the chance to air their views.
From them we learned something of the complexities, as well as the contradictions inherent in the Trust's work. In order to preserve historic sites, it is sometimes necessary to demolish as well as conserve in the interests of permanence. New things have to be added that might be historically accurate, but detract from the perceived feeling of "authenticity" in a particular site. When the Trust was established in the late nineteenth century, it was planned to render all sites accessible to everyone. This might be a laudable claim, but too many visitors can often prove destructive to a site unless it is carefully maintained. Sometimes the Trust has to restrict as well as widen access.
What distinguished this program was the prevailing emphasis on storytelling. The Trust tries to recreate as well as preserve the historical stories associated with its sites, while trying to tell new stories of its own through innovative marketing as well as different forms of initiatives designed to increase its revenue stream. From the evidence of this series, they seem to fulfill these objectives extremely competently.
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