Musical producer

Wrexham producer breaks new ground with new TV drama tackling children’s mental health issues

A Wrexham producer is breaking new ground in tackling mental health issues and tragedies affecting children and their families with a new TV show.

The lead role in new S4C drama Bex is played by West End actress Rebecca Hayes, who says she would have loved to see a drama series like this when she was young because it would have been a great help in navigating the trials and tribulations of growing up.

The program highlights how young people can be seriously disturbed by all kinds of real-life mental health and wellbeing issues and how talking about them can be a big help.

Among the difficulties presented are a young boy whose sister died of leukemia, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, body dysmorphic disorder and a phobia of vomiting.

The series was conceived by BAFTA Wales winner Nia Ceidiog, a former pupil of Ysgol Morgan Llwyd at Wrexham, and was brought up in Wrexham, Bwlchgwyn and Coedpoeth.

His long list of credits includes writing the original version of the Fireman Sam series in English and Welsh.

Nia Ceidiog

Bex consists of eight 20-minute episodes of the program, with the first airing at 6:30 p.m. on S4C on Tuesday, March 22. The eight episodes will be available on demand on S4Cs Clic.

Rebecca, who is currently appearing in a stage version of the classic American novel, To Kill a Mocking Bird, at the Gielgud Theater in London, said: “This is the first show I have done for children. The reason I did it is if I had a program like this when I was growing up dealing with a whole bunch of things that I had to deal with in my life and in the life of my friends, I would have loved that.

“It showed me that this is not something to be afraid of or not to be silent about. I also learned things that I didn’t know much about that could have helped me recognize problems in others. It is important for young people to see that things like panic attacks, anxiety, phobias and the like happen and that it is possible to live with these issues.

She said mental health issues among children and young people were one of the main issues that emerged during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.

“But it has led to more openness and more talk and young people now believe they have someone to talk to about their issues, phobias and issues. Bex shows young people how to talk to someone to share how they feel and know they can help,” added. Rebecca.

Bex, Rebecca explained, is a special person who appears to children who need her help on the show.

“She visits a number of children who are suffering from various mental health issues and encourages them to talk to her and others,” Rebecca said.

Nel Williams as Casi and Iwan Charles as his father, Alan Plwg

During the series, Bex visits Jac, who has lost his sister Anni to blood cancer, leukemia, and Casi who suffers from severe anxiety. This developed into emetophobia, an extreme fear of vomiting, seeing vomiting, watching others vomit, or even feeling sick. It’s a phobia that can occur alongside other mental health issues that producer Nia Ceidiog says isn’t as uncommon as many people might think.

Rebecca added that during the series, Bex also visits Celyn and Elis, who are both affected by the effects of an OCD condition. Other issues reviewed by Bex include panic attacks, body dysmorphic disorder, and separation anxiety disorder (SAD).

She said a young person with SAD worries a lot about being separated from family members or other close people. The child is afraid of being lost from his family or that something bad will happen to a family member if he is not with the person. This had become increasingly evident during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“On the show, Bex visits Trystan who has SAD. He doesn’t want to go back to school and continually contacts his parents by calling or texting them,” she said.

Nia Ceidiog said Rebecca gives a masterful performance as Bex.

“We saw a lot of actors for the role and Rebecca was excellent. Her performance is understated but strong and very realistic. The kids who are on the show thought she was very cool,” she said .

She added that the program is for children between the ages of eight and twelve. She hopes parents will watch Bex with their children, giving them the opportunity to open up the discussion on mental health topics.

“The program will air at 6:30 p.m., a little later than the normal children’s programming time on S4C and this is a time when families normally sit down to watch television.

“We had experts and specialists behind us throughout the realization of this program who advised us on the problems described in the programs. The fictional dramas are tough but realistic and the conditions depicted are severe but Bex brings hope.

“Children go through a lot but we did it with the help of experts, we don’t want to trigger anything on anyone but we tried to be honest,” she said.

Rebecca Hayes as Bex

Nia’s production company Ceidiog, which has won BAFTA awards for other children’s TV programmes, has received support from the Welsh Government to provide educational resources to accompany the series. She said health and wellbeing are key elements of the new school curriculum in Wales.

A number of well-known authors, including Megan Angharad Hunter, Anni Llyn, Nia Morais, Angharad Blythe and Manon Steffan-Ros, joined teachers, children and other experts to create these resources.

Nia added that there will be a podcast with children talking about their experiences, and a special section just for teachers, offering webinars etc, as well as a wellness section for them on how to manage their own lives, helping them to be more able to help children who have serious problems.

Sioned Geraint, Commissioner for Children and Learners at S4C, said: “This series is groundbreaking in the way it deals with children’s mental health, and we hope it will open the door to family discussion about mental health. mental, that’s such a problem. important thing.

“It’s a pleasure to see talented young actors, mostly new faces on screen, watching.”

Bex airs on S4C on Tuesday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m. on S4C. English and Welsh subtitles are available. The program is also available on demand on S4C Clic, BBC iPlayer and other platforms

Did you spot something? You have a story? Send one facebook post | A direct message to Twitter | Email [email protected]