Mari Griffith: BBC broadcaster, musician and writer dies

Mari Griffith
Image caption Mari Griffith turned her hand to TV directing and novel writing later in her career

Broadcaster, performer and writer Mari Griffith has died at the age of 79 after being diagnosed with cancer.

As a singer and presenter, she appeared regularly on BBC programmes.

Ms Griffith, who was raised in Maesteg, Bridgend county, was also a producer and director and in recent years published two historical novels.

She spent a lifetime making music programmes and was a well-known voice as a BBC Radio Wales announcer for many years.

Ms Griffith lived in Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan, with her partner Jonah Jones prior to her death.

Writing on Facebook on Tuesday, Mr Jones said: "To those who knew her, sad news. Mari Griffith died yesterday."

Her unmistakably warm, Welsh delivery meant she was also a frequent announcer on TV and radio, and she shared the screen with acting greats during a golden age of Welsh television.

Her first job was with the BBC Northern Singers, based in Manchester.

Finding herself in the middle of the 1960s music revolution and the growth of folk clubs she later wrote: "There was nothing for it but to buy a guitar myself and have lessons. It was the best thing I ever did."

But she recalled turning down an invitation to play at the Cavern Club.

"Beatlemania had yet to reach fever pitch and I'd never heard of the place... I was a newbie driver and I didn't fancy taking on the East Lancs Road to Liverpool on a dark, wet November night so I refused the gig."

She became a regular soloist on children's programmes - including appearing with ventriloquist Ray Allan and artist Tony Hart.

Ms Griffith's versatility to present, sing and play meant she was in demand.

"I became three performers for the price of one which meant that I was never out of work," she said.

Image caption Mari - a Welsh folk singer - performed on the BBC programme Llwybrau'r Gan in 1966

She later moved and was a contracted performer for BBC Wales, appearing alongside Welsh double-act Ryan and Ronnie on TV and on tour at theatres around the country.

The BBC Two programme Poems and Pints was a staple for her performances, where she shared the screen with Philip Madoc and Max Boyce.

She presented the first broadcast concert at St David's Hall in Cardiff in 1982.

A fluent Welsh speaker, she was also a familiar face on the music programme Disc a Dawn.

After retiring from broadcasting Ms Griffith turned her hand to novels - writing the first of two set in the Tudor period when she was 75 years old.

Image caption Poems and Pints alongside Max Boyce, Ryan Davies and Philip Madoc in 1975

BBC Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies said she would be missed "enormously" by both colleagues and listeners.

"Mari was a natural broadcaster with a voice that shone through the airwaves," he said.

"It was her love of music that led her to the BBC, where she will be remembered for performances with Ryan and Ronnie as well as the iconic music programmes of the era.

"We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends."

Image caption Mari Griffith with comedian Ryan Davies (left) and actor Norman Rossington

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