Wales

Sali Mali: Children's favourite character turns 50

Actress Rebecca Harries dressed as Sali Mali with a black bird puppet, and the orange book cover of the character with a black bird on the window sill Image copyright S4C / Gomer
Image caption Rebecca Harries, dressed in signature orange, played Sali Mali on S4C, and the first-ever book cover from 1969

Welsh children's character Sali Mali is celebrating her 50th birthday.

She first appeared in a Welsh language book by former teacher Mary Vaughan Jones in 1969 and has since appeared in a number of other stories, as well as animated and live-action TV series.

Welsh landmarks will be lit orange - the colour of the character's dress - while children's parties are taking place across the country.

The show has been dubbed into 14 other languages including Korean and Polish.

Mary Vaughan Jones created Sali Mali in the 1960s, while working as a lecturer at Normal College, Bangor, and she went on to write a series of books aimed at very young readers.

The books featured illustrations by her colleague in Bangor, Rowena Wyn Jones.

Other characters to appear alongside Sali Mali included Jac y Jwc, Jaci Soch and Y Pry Bach Tew.

Image caption Children at Ysgol y Ddwylan, Newcastle Emlyn, joined the celebrations

Vaughan Jones died in 1983 but other authors have continued to produce the Sali Mali stories and new books are still being published.

TV adaptations included a cartoon featuring the voice of Rhys Ifans and a theme tune sung by Cerys Matthews, with the series sold to 15 different countries.

Ifans is one of twelve writers to contribute stories to a new book, Straeon Nos Da Sali Mali (Sali Mali's Goodnight Stories) which will be published at the weekend.

Image copyright Gomer
Image caption New books are being published this year for the 50th anniversary of the character

"Sali Mali", in the form of actress Rebecca Harries, has also been visiting events including the Urdd Eisteddfod to meet her fans.

She played the character in two TV adaptations for S4C - Caffi Sali Mali and Pentre Bach, which means "little village".

She told BBC Cymru Fyw she had been "very lucky" to play the part.

"It's very rare to get the chance to play a character from a book you read as a little girl.

"I told my friends I got the job of playing the Sali Mali character, and they all started quoting from the book," she said.

Publishing house Gomer is holding a birthday party for Sali Mali in Carmarthen, while the Senedd and the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth will be illuminated in orange as part of the celebrations.

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