Michael Sheen, Sian Phillips and Jonathan Pryce to star in Aberfan disaster film


Welsh actors Michael Sheen, Sian Phillips and Jonathan Pryce are set to star in a 60-minute BBC film marking 50 years since the Aberfan disaster.

Using verse, imagery and music, the film, titled The Green Hollow, explores the identity of the village before and after the tragedy, which claimed the lives of 144 people, including 116 children, in October 1966.

Written by award-winning poet, novelist and playwright Owen Sheers, the film-cum-poem draws on interviews with survivors, parents and those involved in the rescue operation, many of whom have never spoken about their experiences.

Michael Sheen with partner Sarah Silverman.
Michael Sheen with partner Sarah Silverman (Chris Pizzello/AP)

The tragedy, which all but wiped out an entire generation of the village's schoolchildren, devastated the community after a coal waste tip slid down a mountain, engulfing a school and surrounding houses.

Award-winning actor Michael said despite being born three years after the event, he "grew up with an awareness of it".

He added: "Nothing can compare to the unimaginable suffering that was inflicted upon that community, but it was a suffering that resonated with the whole country and beyond.

Jonathan Pryce and Sian Phillips.
Jonathan Pryce and Sian Phillips (Ian West/Jonathan Brady/PA)

"From the moment you first hear the story of October 21st and try to imagine what that day must have been like for everyone there, it stays with you for the rest of your life. It certainly has with me."

Game Of Thrones actor Robert Pugh was a teenager and lived in the next valley to Aberfan in 1966.

"Chaos - people shouting, men and women digging at piles of black waste and forming lines to pass down the buckets of mud," Robert said.

Owen Sheers.
Owen Sheers (Tim Ireland/PA)

"It was chaotic, all mixed up and I'll always think of those men and women scrabbling around in that mud."

Pirates Of The Caribbean star Jonathan drew similarities between the disaster and the Syria civil war, saying: "Sadly, the images of children buried alive in Aleppo continue to remind us of the contempt with which our leaders still view the lives of innocents."

Aberfan: The Green Hollow airs on BBC One Wales on Friday October 21 at 9pm and on BBC Four on Sunday October 23 at 8pm.