TO COMMEMORATE the 175th anniversary of the Newport Rising, Hollywood actor Michael Sheen has retraced the fateful march in a BBC programme.

Mr Sheen embarked on a personal journey to retrace the steps of the Chartist rebels in 1839, while drawing parallels to modern life in the valleys in the programme, Michael Sheen’s Valleys Rebellion, previewed by the Argus.

He highlights how 175 years ago, 5,000 men arrived at the Westgate Hotel in Newport to demand parliamentary and social change.

But 22 men were shot by troops.

Throughout the BBC documentary Mr Sheen explores their legacy and questions why ordinary people and politicians seem so far apart today.

He is filmed walking through Newport and stood outside the hotel before reflecting on the city’s former mural – depicting the 1839 Chartist uprising in the city – before it was demolished in 2013.

Mr Sheen subsequently penned an open letter to try and save it, which was published in the South Wales Argus.

With the countdown to the general election underway, and voter turnout at a low, he asks is there something wrong with democracy? Do people feel they have a political voice? And do they owe it to their ancestors to re-engage in politics?

Commenting on the Chartists, he said: “They gave their lives for the right to vote so why increasingly today do we not use it?”

In the programme, he travels to The Heads of the Valleys where the movement started, visiting Pontlottyn, Rhymney, Blaina and Tredegar before heading on down the valley to Newport.

He said: “I’m intrigued by the parallels of today’s population and the struggles their forefathers faced nearly 200 years ago.”

On his journey, he meets many people who feel powerless and frustrated with the political system.

The Manic Street Preachers’ lead-singer James Dean Bradfield, from Blackwood, discusses growing up in the shadow of the 1980s miners’ strike.

Also sharing their opinion is Lord Neil Kinnock, Monmouth MP David Davies and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, alongside those people living and work in the valleys today.

Michael Sheen’s Valleys Rebellion will air on Tuesday February 24, on BBC Two Wales, at 9pm.