A Cardiff drag queen has set his sights on TV stardom after joining the cast of the hit Welsh language version of Gogglebox.
Welsh-speaking drag artist Teifi Rowley, 20, has joined mum Medi Evans and drag queen pal Jordan Bowen as Gogglebocs Cymru’s newest armchair critics for the ground-breaking show’s second series on S4C.
The trio have been avid fans since the first series launched and were stunned when producers invited them for a screen test to join the smash hit show.
The first six shows are being shown at 9pm on Wednesday nights in October and November before taking a break and returning for a celebrity Christmas version on December 27 and a further eight episodes from February 14 next year, with the programmes being once again narrated by comedian and broadcaster Tudur Owen.
Teifi, who grew up in Llandaff North, Cardiff, and has already found local fame as his clownish alias ‘Anniben’ (the Welsh word for ‘messy’), performing at venues across the capital, said his irreverent quips and mum’s brutal honesty should make the trio an interesting addition to the award-winning format.
“It’s absolutely wild!” said the former Cardiff and Vale College student.
“There hasn’t been much queer representation on TV and so I think it’s validating and cool to be able to represent my own identity and community. I also think it will be nice to see a good relationship between a mother and her son – in the media we often see or read about queer young people who’ve been kicked out of their homes but we’re quite the opposite of that.
“My friends are very happy for us. Both Jordan and I are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and they are proud and absolutely delighted to watch us being ourselves.
“I think we’ll be an interesting dynamic. I’ve always gotten along with my mum and with all three of us together, it’s a strange mix but it works well.”
Teifi, who formerly attended Ysgol Glantaf, became a drag performer three years ago after becoming attached to the costumes he had sketched while studying art.
“My character’s name is Anniben which is the Welsh for ‘messy’ – as in cluttered, not the footballer,” he said.
“I lip synch and dance (if you could call it that!). I suppose a lot of my work comes from being a Welsh language speaker which is rare in the industry.
“Most people I tell about the show are surprised I’ve not done anything like this before. I’m very much myself when I’m not in drag. I have an over-the-top sense of character and humour anyway. I’m quite camp and irreverent!
“We’re not really clear at what point we’ll film in full make-up, but it will happen!”.
Teifi’s mum, primary school teacher Medi, 51, is already worried about putting her foot in it when the cameras roll.
She said: “I think I’m quite ‘peaceful’ in my head, but things often pop out of my mouth, and I think ‘Oh God!’
“I would say we’re all very opinionated but very normal – although our version of normal might not be what everybody else’s normal is!
“It’s going to be high-octane fun. What I like about my son’s community is how accepting they are of everything. When I turn up to watch them perform – bearing in mind I’m a middle-aged woman – they’re like ‘yay, you’re here, that’s great!’ rather than ‘oh no, it’s your mum again!’
“Teifi and I like the same things, we both like musicals and the same films. We’re like two peas in a pod – literally separated at birth. He’s always dressed up since he was tiny so it’s not a big change. I’m so proud of him and his gang of friends. They’re a fabulous group and are so supportive of each other. The drag community he’s in are one big family.”
The show, nominated for a BAFTA Cymru award, is made by two Gwynedd-based television production companies, Cwmni Da, in Caernarfon, and Chwarel, from Criccieth.
It is the first time Studio Lambert and Channel 4 have licensed the Gogglebox franchise to another UK-based broadcaster.
In the second series, the run has been extended from 11 to 15 episodes which will be broadcast in two blocks.
In addition, there are five more groups – families and friends – this year, giving producers an ever-greater spread of opinion across a wide range of programmes.
Producer Huw Maredudd, from Cwmni Da, said the team was looking forward to laughing and crying again with both the new and returning households.
“The show was very well received with lots of traction and attention on social media. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and of course the BAFTA nomination from our peers showed appreciation for what we’d achieved on a professional level,” he said.
“Everybody I have spoken to has a different favourite; some like John from Porthmadog and others like Marcus and Vicki because they’re so colourful.
“This series is longer which is a reflection of how much people have taken to these characters and the programme.
“We’re very proud of all the different people that we managed to find and now we’re back even bigger and better and will be reaching out even wider and showing even more diversity and expanding the range of shows.”
Sioned Wyn, Director of Chwarel, added: “It’s groundbreaking. Not only are people discovering S4C content that perhaps they wouldn’t have watched before, for the GoggleBocs’ contributors themselves it has been pretty life changing,” she said.
“Everybody has found it pretty life-affirming and transformative, and their confidence has improved. People are already getting recognised and are being asked for their autographs – they’re loving every minute of it.
“We are also bringing people to S4C who were not there before. We are a wide and varied society, and we try to go to all regions of Wales from Wrexham and the Valleys to Pembrokeshire and Mid-Wales.
“It’s been one of the most inspirational shows I’ve ever worked on. The figures speak for themselves – we quadrupled the viewing figures for that slot. The next challenge will be to keep it fresh.”
Starting at 9pm on S4C on Wednesday, October 18, the first six shows will be broadcast in October and November before taking a break and returning for a celebrity Christmas version on December 27 and a further eight episodes from February 14 next year, with the programmes being once again narrated by comedian and broadcaster Tudur Owen. English subtitles will be available and the programme can also be viewed on S4C Clic, BBC iPlayer and other streaming platforms.