Griff Rhys Jones chats Doctor Who locations, corgis and Monty Python catches up with the British comic ahead of his new ITV travel show – A Great Welsh Adventure

Born in Wales but brought up in Essex, Griff Rhys Jones says Welsh people don’t view him to be “proper Welsh”. In his new eight part series – A Great Welsh Adventure (8pm, Jan 6 on ITV) – he attempts to get back in touch with his native land and Celtic routes. 


That said, “a lot of it is about Corgis and finding out why the Welsh have an obsession with furniture,” says Rhys Jones.

“They hand down pieces of furniture,” he continues, “it’s a farmhouse thing. Welsh farms were quite wealthy in the 1900s, because it was a prosperous time for them. Cattle Farms particularly. They’d have dressers, clocks, coffers, cupboards and things like that. The most expensive piece was sold for £45,000 and that was bought by a Welsh farmer.”

As well as his encounters with furniture and corgis, Rhys Jones also rediscovers Wales’ beauty at Snowdonia, the Gower Peninsula, Pembrokeshire, Anglesey, Mid Wales, Conwy, Border and the Brecon Beacons.

“It’s called ‘Great Adventure’, because I do lots of different things. I don’t just drive around in a Panama hat and shake people by the hand, we get very involved. Getting into the landscape and getting involved in Wales is one of the best things about [the show].”

For the first time ever he swims in a mountain lake, learns the national anthem in Welsh and tries coasteering, (climbing, scrambling, canyoning and swimming along the Pembrokeshire coast). But, what he really learned was that he was detached from the cultural norms of Wales.

“This is a different country and people do have different concerns,” explains Rhys Jones, “not just language-based but food and the whole of life. So coming to realise that was quite important. There’s less of a class system in Wales. Doing Who Do You Think You Are? was interesting because everyone [in England] is concerned about who you are and where your family comes from.

“There’s a lot going for Wales. Some of the towns are very beautiful. People go to Cardiff now just because of Doctor Who. They make trips to see the locations that featured in Doctor Who or Torchwood. Cardiff is an extraordinary place.” 

During the ‘80s and ‘90s, Rhys Jones was a British household comedy name – appearing on shows including Not the Nine O’Clock News, Who’s Line is it Anyway and Smith and Jones. However, of late he’s known for his Three Men and a Boat series, which saw him travel to Ireland, Scotland and Venice; his Greatest Cities of the World show, which took him to New York, Sydney and Hong Kong; and this year for his travels to Burma, following in the footsteps of his father.

Visit Wales with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details

Although, Rhys Jones says he misses the comedy: “I would like to do more comedy,” he says, “It’s just a question of what.”  He assures us that a live show like Monty Python’s is not on the cards. “I don’t want to get into that world as it’s very geared towards the mentality of 24-year-olds,” says Rhys Jones. “I think it’s interesting. [Monty Python] weren’t really a live show to begin with. They hardly appeared on stage together at all. Maybe it’s increasingly becoming the only way people can make any money.

“All the rock and rollers have suddenly come out again and they’re suddenly touring America and all that, because you can’t make any money from selling music.”

For now, Rhys Jones is here to show us that Wales is one of the most underrated places on earth. “[People] probably think it’s a bit wet. It does get a lot of rain,” he says, “but when we filmed there over three months in the summer we only had two days of bad rain.

“Watch the film, it’s not an optical illusion. There we were on Snowdon with no fog, no clouds. When the sun shines in Wales there’s nowhere more beautiful in the world.”

A Great Welsh Adventure airs at 8pm, January 6 on ITV

Visit Wales with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details