This was an idea, like most of the best ideas, bought to life over too many pints of Italian lager and a few packets of crisps.
“Wouldn’t it be great” we thought; “to take the Ffwrnes boys on the journey of a lifetime to the Pizza World Championships?”
And that was that – in that little moment in a corner of a pub in Cardiff – Bois y Pizza was born.
What followed has been an adventure of a lifetime for us all – both geographically and emotionally!
TWO BOYS, THREE WHEELS, ONE AMBITION [FOR US ALL]
So, let me tell you a little bit about Ffwrnes and the idea we’d just unleashed.
Ffwrnes began in 2014 when two boys, Ieuan and Jez, had a dream. They wanted to combine their love of Pizza with the finest produce that Wales has to offer.
They bought a three-wheeled Piaggio Ape van off eBay – named him Smokey Pete – and took to the streets of Cardiff to share their passion for pizza.
Our production team here at Orchard, had been watching the growth of the business carefully, and having got to know the boys a bit, we knew that they were great characters. And that’s the secret to any TV idea really, finding big personalities that can light up the screen.
So, like any good pizza, we knew we had a great base to start from. The next process was to combine the rest of the ingredients needed to bring it all to life.
We’d known that the Campionata Mondiale Della Pizza in Parma had always been a dream of the boys, so this felt like another of the key ingredients that was needed. It provided the ultimate goal for the boys – and a chance to realise their ambitions.
Jez was keen from the start:
“We weren’t good enough to play rugby for
nor football, or even cricket. So this was our chance. A chance to kick it to the Italians in their own
So we knew that the boys had the fighting spirit that they needed – but did they have what it would take? This wouldn’t be easy; this was going to be the big league. And to bring their dream to life, and our series, we’d need to put a plan in place.
So that’s what we did – we mapped a journey across Europe in the direction of Parma; the idea was that the boys (and Smokey Pete, of course) would travel Europe finding inspiration from some of the finest foods they could find, and some of the world’s best chefs.
COOK AT 200 DEGREES FOR FOUR 30-MINUTE EPISODES
Once we’d mapped out the route it was time for the logistics to start.
You can imagine the delight (and indeed the expletives) of our production manager Rhidian when we told him we need to get a three-wheel van, with a maximum speed of about 40 miles per hour, (and that’s down-hill) across Europe.
But, as is often the case here in Orchard, where there is a will, there is always a way. It was time to mix the key ingredients together to create the perfect series.
Armed with their Lonely Planet guidebooks, and a fold-out map of Europe, our production team started to map out how to creatively bring this dream to life - salivating at every decision being made as to where the boys would visit.
They found three-starred Michelin restaurants, the best pizzerias in the world, San Sebastian’s pintxos bars, and French vineyards – and this was just them getting started. The menu looked mighty fine!
Creatively, we wanted the programmes to be as engaging as the food was delicious, and to capture the down to earth nature of the boys. A lot of what they were experiencing along the way would be for the first time, so we wanted this to come across on the screen as well. To achieve this, our crew were embedded with the boys throughout the whole tour, living and experiencing their journey with them.
As you can imagine, there were no shortage of willing crew members to join them!
THE JOURNEY ITSELF
The notorious saying of ‘What goes on tour, stays on tour’ doesn’t apply in this case - the whole thing can be seen on S4C and BBC iPlayer! So, I won’t give you any spoilers - I’d rather that you all watch the series and see for yourselves.
What I will say though is that, the boys got to taste some of the best food, experience some of the most amazing scenery and make friends with some of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet. Filming abroad is never easy, but I was surrounded by a team of cracking people, all of whom are at the top of their games, so the whole journey went brilliantly. It’s safe to say, it was a journey that we’ll never forget.
The motto of Llanelli Wanderers, the rugby club where the boys played as youngsters reads: “Cyfeillach trwy Grwydro" (Friendship through Wandering) – and I can’t think of a better way to sum up the whole journey.
BACK IN WALES [BACK TO REALITY]
The base was made; and the ingredients were mixed (and we knew we had some of the very best). It was now time to bake the whole thing to bring it alive.
The edit process is always a fascinating one - it’s where the story is really brought to life. The next challenge was to sift through hours and hours of footage, to find those moments that would reflect on-screen, the moments we had enjoyed on the ground.
It was easy; the food was gorgeous, Smokey Pete was firing along and the boys were lighting up the screen - the series was coming together like a dream.
But of course, no journey is complete without a map. The boys had one in the van, but now we needed one for the screen. And luckily for us, I only needed to go upstairs to see our creative team.
Rohanne, our graphic illustrator and Jac, our graphic animator narrated the journey of the Pizza Boys’ travels throughout Europe with colourful illustrated maps which brought the story to life.
Rohanne digitally illustrated the countries using their natural landscapes and famous landmarks to tell the story of the journey, and give it more context. Jac then brought these illustrations to life, through playful animation, showing the pizza van travelling to and from each checkpoint across Europe.
“I loved the fact the Pizza Boys were locally sourcing ingredients on their journey to create the perfect pizza. I used this as inspiration for the style of the maps, which had a hand-drawn/organic feel to them. Jac did a great job of bringing the elements and landmarks to life too! It gives it a lot more depth.” – Rohanne
“This was a really fun project to work on, the style of the illustrations made it so enjoyable to animate. The art style is lovely and really came to life even with subtle changes and movement.” – Jac
And that was that really. Almost eighteen months since that fateful night in the pub, the series was on the screen. The end of what had been an amazing journey with a cracking team of people, and a real testament to how committed we are to bringing ideas to life here at Orchard.
It’s safe to say, I think I owe everyone involved a pint of that Italian lager; who knows where it could lead?
You can catch ‘Bois y Pizza’ Fridays at 8:25pm on S4C.