University historian examines Wales’ historical relationship with England in a new BBC series

Professor Martin Johnes, professor of history at Swansea University, will challenge some of the most fundamental ideas about Wales' historical relationship with England and its place in the world in a new BBC series, Wales: England’s Colony?

The two-part series, which is written and presented by Professor Johnes, is broadcast on 11 and 18 March at 9pm on BBC Two Wales. The series is designed to stimulate debate about the past story of Wales, and will also challenge the audience to think afresh about some of the future constitutional choices facing Wales as it leaves the European Union.

Professor Martin Johnes

Focussing on how Wales’ relationship with England has shaped both the nation's development and how Wales sees itself, the programmes will tell the story of an uneasy and unequal relationship between two nations living side-by-side. It examines Wales' story from its creation to the present day, examining key moments such as medieval conquest, industrial exploitation, the Blue Books, the 1919 race riots and the flooding of Cwm Tryweryn.

Professor Johnes argues that the conquest and oppression of the medieval period meant Wales was England's first colony but that gradually over time the Welsh reconciled themselves to this position and became partners in and beneficiaries of the British Empire. The union of England and Wales was never an equal one but in a democracy Wales has the freedom to choose whether it wishes to remain in the United Kingdom or not.

Professor Martin Johnes says: "History has shaped how we think of Wales but our past is more complicated than we often understand. Part of Wales' current problem lies in believing that we are, and always have been, victims, powerless to act on our own and to choose our own future."

The series is part of The Changing Face of Wales season across BBC Wales television, radio and online - looking at what it means to live in Wales and to be Welsh at a time of unprecedented change.

This spring, BBC Wales will launch a series of history podcasts where Professor Martin Johnes will be joined by guests to discuss some key questions in Welsh history such as whether Wales was ever an independent nation, and were the Welsh miners truly radical?


Wales: England’s Colony? 

BBC Two Wales, Monday 11 and 18 March at 9pm