‘The nerves kicked in and I was very anx­ious, but I think it’s the best episode we’ve ever done’

Daily Express - - Daily Express Supports - A FES­TIVE RE­UNION A SE­CRET MEET­ING By Ni­cola Methven GET­TING THE GANG BACK TO­GETHER

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

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