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Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

Memories & Memorabilia

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Aberdare Boys’ Comprehensive School
The Filming of Selected Exits with Anthony Hopkins

from School Records

In 1993 a television film called Selected Exits was released starring Anthony Hopkins. The film depicted various episodes in the life of the Rhondda born writer and playwright Gwyn Thomas.

For twenty-two years Thomas was a full-time teacher of Spanish, and therefore part of the film dwelt upon his time in the classroom. One of the schools used for the filming was the Aberdare Girls’ School, (AGS), in Plasdraw. However, the scenes the writers chose to show depicted the time when Thomas taught at Barry Boys’ Grammar School. Of course, there were no boys present in AGS at that time, so Aberdare Boys Comprehensive School was approached and a posse of boys was made available for the filming. The picture below shows Anthony Hopkins with some of these boys at AGS.

Selected Exits, Anthony Hopkins

There is a short clip from the film available on YouTube. We see part of a lesson in a classroom; Hopkins walking along the first floor corridor above the assembly hall; and a scene shot in the chemistry lab. The final scene of a games supervision on a sports field is almost certainly not filmed in Aberdare.
[Currently, November 2020, on YouTube]

The film was directed by Tristram Powell, with screenplay by Alan Plater, and based on the Gwyn Thomas autobiography, ‘of Sorts’, A Few Selected Exits.

Gwyn Thomas, 1913–1981, was born in Cymmer, near Porth in the Rhondda Valley. At various times in his life he was a WEA lecturer in south Wales, a social service officer in Lancashire and Cheshire before going to Cardigan Grammar School as French master in 1940. And finally in 1942, he moved to Barry Grammar School where he taught Spanish for the next 20 years.

After leaving teaching, he turned to full-time writing as a novelist and playwright. Still later in his career he became known as a raconteur, and appeared frequently on radio and television, on programmes such as Any Questions, The Brains Trust, and Parkinson. He also wrote for Punch and had a weekly column in the Western Mail. Also on YouTube is the charming HTV series he filmed in Wales called Gwyn Thomas visits ...

The biography of Gwyn Thomas is
Parnell, Michael, Laughter from the Dark: Life of Gwyn Thomas. John Murray (1988).

Here are some links to listings of Thomas’s written material:

A list of Novels and Short Stories Collections

Theatre & Broadcasting

Short Stories, Essays and Articles

NLW Gwyn Thomas Papers