‘The nerves kicked in and I was very anxious, but I think it’s the best episode we’ve ever done’
THE last time we saw lovebirds Gavin and Stacey, and their respective best friends Smithy and Nessa, they were trying to order a Chinese takeaway. It was January 2010 and Nessa had been persuaded not to marry boyfriend Dave simply to have a father figure for her baby, Neil. Smithy felt he could do it himself, even though he nearly ruined his heartfelt speech with the line: “A lot of the time you repulse me.”
The hit show – which spawned catchphrases including “what’s occurring?’, “cracking” and “lush” – left the gang, including a pregnant Stacey, sitting in the sunshine on Barry Island,Wales, and wondering about that night’s dinner.
So what’s occurring now, nine years on, in the eagerly anticipated hour-long Christmas Day special? Quite a lot as it happens...
IT’S Christmas 2019 and the turn of theWelsh clan to host all the Shipmans and theWests – with Uncle Bryn, played by Rob Brydon, volunteering to do the cooking.
Pam isn’t happy because she feels Gwen’s house is a bit lacking, but everyone’s looking forward to a big festive knees up down the boozer. However, something’s bothering Stacey – after a decade together, she’s worried the spark may have gone out of her marriage to Gavin.
Show co-writer Ruth Jones, who plays Nessa, explains: “We were trying to find what it was like 10 years on for Gavin and Stacey because they are the heart of this show.The only reason all these characters come together is because they met and got married.
“We felt that we needed something solid and chunky for them. Once we got that, everything else was a joy or a bonus.”
She and the show’s co-creator James Corden, who plays Smithy, have revealed that writing the new show left them in floods of tears.
FANS have wanted more Gavin & Stacey for years.And it turns out that Ruth, 53, and Corden, 41 – now one of the biggest British stars in America thanks to his chat show – did too.
It’s the show about theWelsh girl who falls in love with an Essex boy, thus bringing together two sets of hilariously mismatched family and friends. Ruth and James created the show 15 years ago when they were jobbing actors.
Fast-forward five years: Gavin & Stacey was a Bafta-winning British institution and the pair were megastars.Then it was over, after just three series and 21 episodes, much to everyone’s disappointment.
“Ever since it finished in 2010, James and I have always secretly texted ideas to each other – a line for Pam or a situation for Bryn or a new job for Nessa,” explains Ruth.
But there was a problem... “James and I live on different continents.We had to find time when he could take some time off.”
In the end, the pair got together in secret in LA to see if they could make it work. But even when it was written, getting so many people back together for filming wasn’t a simple matter. “It was a miracle,” Ruth adds. “We had a two-and-a-half week period where everyone could pretty much commit to it.”
WHEN Joanna Page, who plays Stacey, first heard from Ruth she admits she had a niggling worry...
“Ruth got in touch with me on every form of social media, email and message,” says Joanna. “I thought this was either something really, really good – the show is coming back again – or really, really bad. Is she going to tell me there’s some really dodgy photos of me?”
Mathew Horne, who plays the sometimes hapless Gavin, jokes that his first reaction to news of a reunion concerned his Late Late Show host friend. “I first heard from Ruth and my initial reaction was relief. I just thought, ‘Thank God, James has got some work’,” he says.
“I’d been so worried about him, that he just wouldn’t be able to eat. So my thoughts went out to him first and foremost. Then the nerves kicked in” Melanie Waters, Stacey’s mum Gwen, also had her doubts at first. She says: “James sent me a text saying who he was and ‘you may remember me’. I thought I was being trolled, I completely ignored it.Then he rang and it was a weird number so I ignored it. It was about the fourth time he left a voicemail and I could recognise his voice.”
And Robert Wilfort, who plays Stacey’s older brother Jason, adds: “I was so thrilled when I heard it was coming back; I didn’t even tell my mum. Everyone else was worried about their schedules but I was unemployed at the time. I got a missed call from Los Angeles and thought it was a scam. Like a Nigerian prince or someone.”
And was it worth it? “I was very, very anxious,” says Mathew. “Even after reading the script and knowing it was brilliant. My instant reaction to watching it is, I think it’s the best episode we’ve ever done.”
Larry Lamb, who plays Gavin’s dad Mick, is also thrilled with the results. “Now I’ve seen it I feel so extraordinarily overcome
CRACKING: James Corden as Smithy