AN ACTOR who grew up in Denbighshire has praised the community he grew up in for looking after his mum during the coronavirus lockdown.

Rhys Ifans, who grew up in Ruthin, is set to feature on a special Welsh language programme for BBC Radio Cymru Two, as part of BBC Wales’ Gŵyl AmGen cultural festival.

In it, he thanks the Ruthin community, who looked after his mother whilst he was living in London preparing for a role in the drama ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Speaking to BBC Wales Radio Cymru Two in a programme set to air at 4pm on Friday, July 31, Ifan said: “I was on the phone to Mum twice a day, every morning and afternoon. She lives on her own as well and I was desperate to see her. Mum’s seen loads more people than I have.

"She lives in an estate in Ruthin and her neighbours have been amazing. She’s had so much support. When you’re isolating in London, you do think about the value of community. I can’t thank her neighbours, and the people of Ruthin, enough for all the love and care shown to her. It certainly made my lockdown a lot easier.”

While living alone in a London flat without a garden, behind Waterloo station, on the banks of the Thames, the actor was spending his days in 1930s Alabama, preparing for his role in the drama ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, a story of racial inequality.A month later, lockdown was announced.

He said: “Your gut instinct, in this situation is to go home, first and foremost, and I wanted to be with my Mum. I wanted to be close to my friends and family, so I was eager to go back to Wales. But of course, that was impossible. It wasn’t an option. I happened to be in this flat in London, and it’s where I stayed.

“Living in a big city, one of the world’s biggest cities, when something cataclysmic happens, is a worry. When you’ve seen those end-of-the-world apocalyptic films, it sets the scene for the months ahead. To be honest, when I look back now, I was pleased in a way, because it’s been a real privilege to have spent time in London during this period. I’ve been able to see the capital city, after hundreds of years, in a state of peace and quiet. It’s been mind-blowing, it’s been dramatic, and the lockdown transformed London in an instant.

“Overnight the place became silent. I wanted to walk those quiet streets, and felt that history and I were walking hand-in-hand, somehow. Before the lockdown, history was something that happened to other people, in another time, but all of a sudden, history was happening here in the present time.

“It’s been a very monastic experience and I made sure I had a daily ritual. I started running. I’d never been running before, unless I got paid for it, or running away from trouble. For the first time I actually felt the buzz runners often talk about, and that feeling of your body being active. It was a wonderful feeling. I still go running. So I’ve developed habits which I’ve kept. I was eating a healthy diet. I had to decide whether I was going to go down the Toblerone road or the broccoli road. I chose the broccoli road.

Further information about BBC Wales’ Gŵyl AmGen cultural festival - celebrating Wales’ best music and culture - on BBC radio and digital platforms between 30 July 30 and August 2. is available here: