Richard Burton archive of 1970 coal board film shown for first time


BBC Wales is publishing archive of the late actor Richard Burton online for the first time.

It coincides with the publication of his diaries, relating his tempestuous relationship with Elizabeth Taylor.

Burton writes of his "eternal one night stand" and "wildly exciting lover-mistress".

Despite the legendary Welsh actor's huge success in Hollywood and on stage, he reveals himself to be "down to earth and without pomposity," according to the editor of the diaries, Welsh history professor Chris Williams from Swansea University.

For the first time online, a collection of BBC Wales archive footage of Burton and Taylor is published. It includes an interview with the Jenkins family (Richard Burton's siblings) in 1972.

Here Burton is on the set of the British gangland film Villain where he breaks to record a short film for the National Coal Board (NCB) in 1970. It has not been shown before.

Burton snatches a few moments between takes of the film's closing scenes to attempt a piece to camera for the safety film, referring to the risks involved in working in the coal industry.

He explains that although he never really worked in the mines, many of the men in his family did, and that consequently he was aware of the serious risks involved.

Certainly all of Burton's brothers and his father spent at least part of their working lives underground, as did his brother-in-law Elfed James. The safety film, produced by the NCB - sought to communicate the message that travelling "on haulage" (essentially hitching an unauthorised lift on journeys of drams (trams) or on conveyor belts) could be extremely perilous.

A BBC Wales TV documentary about Richard Burton's diaries is due to be broadcast in November.

Thanks to Prof Chris Williams of Swansea University for historical context.

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