The celebrity participants of this year’s series of  ‘Cariad@Iaith’ (love4language), a television programme following the travails of well-known faces as they take up the challenge of an intensive Welsh course in Pembrokeshire, have been announced.

Former participants in the challenge have included Janet Street-Porter who once called the Welsh language ‘ugly and ludicrous’. Let us hope this year’s students are somewhat more positive.

One participant will come as no surprise to anyone who owns a television set. Former Montgomeryshire MP, Lembit Öpik ,who hopes to stand in the London mayoral elections in 2012, is a well-known face not only from political television but also from Bargain Hunt Famous Finds, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Come Dine With Me and  I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here. The multi-talented star, brought up in Northern Ireland, already speaks fluent Estonian and German.

Another participant is former Wales rugby captain, Colin Charvis, who already has previous experience of learning Welsh on reality TV having participated in the Big Welsh Challenge.

Helen Lederer might not be instantly recognisable for all of us, but most people will be familiar with her  from comedies such as Absolutely Fabulous. Another actress, Melanie Walters, who plays the part of Gwen in Gavin and Stacey, feels that her lack of Welsh is like ‘a piece missing’. Her father’s family all spoke Welsh but the language was not passed down to her.

TV presenter Josie D’Arby is learning Welsh after realising how much it would mean to her father.  Fellow TV presenter Matt Johnson is motivated to learn as growing older has made him more aware of his roots.

Goldie Lookin’ Chain singer  Rhys said that he ‘felt [he] missed out big time’ by not being taught Welsh at school ,and talent show runner-up Sophie Evans is spurred on by the chance to be able to sing in both languages.

The new series starts on 8 July at 8.25p.m. on S4C.

If you want to follow in Lembit’s footsteps and learn Welsh yourself, remember that BLS offers a wide range of courses, intensive or otherwise, tailored to your specific needs

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