Comedians urge people to travel back in time

Monday 07 April 2014

Cadw, the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service, has enlisted the help of comedians Chris Corcoran and Elis James to front its ‘Time Travel’ campaign.

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The comedy duo were at Caerphilly Castle today (7 April) to reveal the first in a series of four films encouraging people to step away from the PlayStation and TV and use their imagination to become time travellers at historic sites this spring and summer.

With new statistics revealing that only 17% of 16-24 years olds would be able to identify what made Llywelyn the Great famous compared with 57% who were familiar with Joey Essex’s path to stardom, Cadw hopes the campaign will inspire people to step back in time and explore the amazing stories of Wales’ historic characters.

The first of the four 90-second sketches starring Chris Corcoran and Elis James, sees Chris being persuaded by Elis to stop playing on his PlayStation and go with him to Caerphilly Castle. Chris, an ex-history teacher admitted he was guilty of not exploring the historic sites on his doorstep. “Its classic isn’t it? You never go to the stuff right under your nose." He made his first visit to Caerphilly Castle to create the film, despite having grown up near Pontypridd and living only 20 minutes away.

He said: “This has been a great campaign to be involved in. It’s ridiculous really that we all go to historic sites when we go abroad but never go to our local ones. The characters we play in these little films are fairly realistic in that Elis has been to majority of these sites and I haven’t. I guess the point is that you can have fun at these sites as well as enjoy the history. For example we got to hold up a tower which out-leans Pisa and pretended to be a warrior princess, what’s not to like? It’s been a good laugh."

Elis’ further attempts to inspire Chris to go with him to Cadw sites will be revealed over the next two months on Cadw’s social media channels.  Elis, a history graduate who wrote a comedy show about visiting castles that he performed at the Edinburgh festival, said: "There are so many brilliant stories about our Welsh history and lots of it lends itself brilliantly to comedy. I really hope it does encourage people to get out there and visit the historical attractions that make Wales such a special place.”

Cadw has also created new Time Travel materials including puzzles and colouring sheets as well as a new KidsZone on this website featuring e-books telling the stories of Wales’ historic characters and family resources to help bring history to life in a fun way.

John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport, said: “We’ve launched this campaign to encourage everyone in Wales to become time travelers by visiting one of our 129 historic sites. All you need is a bit of imagination and you can be transported from 2014 back to being a warrior princess in 1144 or a ruling roman in AD75."

“Through our £19 million Heritage Tourism Project (HTP), supported by the European Regional Development Fund, we have made significant improvements to interpretation at our sites and are continuing to make more this year. We hope people will use the Easter and Summer holidays to see for themselves what a fun day out can be had at our many unique historic sites in Wales.”  

Dr Sally Holland, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences, welcomed the Time Travel campaign as a way of encouraging young people to use their imagination. She said: “Imaginative play has an important role in children's development. It is known to help develop empathy, creativity, language development and cognition and, most importantly, it is fun! Quite simply young people will engage with topics that are enjoyable and relevant and this campaign is taking a new look at history to do exactly that.”    

As part of the Time Travel campaign, Cadw has teamed up with the Dr Who Experience, home of the original time lord, to offer a 10% reduced entrance fee for visitors to Cadw sites and vice versa.

Examples of time travel experiences:  
• Take a cape to Caerleon Roman Fortress and be a ruling roman in AD75
• Don a bonnet and imagine life in 1901 as Lady Bute’s maid in the fairytale palace Castell Coch
• Prepare for battle as a medieval warrior in 1316 at Caerphilly Castle with a sword
• Be a warrior princess in 1144 at Kidwelly Castle and follow in the footsteps of Gwellian
• Get your shield ready to defend Wales in 1267 as Llywelyn the Last in Caernarfon