How a Ninja Tur­tle saved Gavin and Stacey!

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Week Civil War Hit SNP - By Chris Hast­ings ARTS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

FANS of the hit TV se­ries Gavin And Stacey have a Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tle to thank for the clas­sic ro­man­tic com­edy, one of its co-cre­ators has re­vealed.

Ruth Jones said that be­fore she met James Cor­den, she was a show­biz wannabe on the brink of giv­ing up her dreams.

As a down-on-her-luck ac­tress do­ing a hum­drum job in Lon­don to make ends meet, she de­cided to re­turn to her na­tive Porthcawl and train in­stead to be a so­lic­i­tor.

It was only then that a panto pro­ducer of­fered her a part as a Ninja Tur­tle and her luck changed.

In an in­ter­view for to­day’s Desert Is­land Discs on BBC Ra­dio 4, the 52-year-old re­calls work­ing for Kens­ing­ton Coun­cil. ‘I was a cler­i­cal as­sis­tant there for a good long while. I just thought, “What is hap­pen­ing to me? I am not ever go­ing to act again.”

‘So I moved back to Wales and I was go­ing to be­come a so­lic­i­tor... That is when one of the let­ters I had writ­ten over the year came to fruition and a pan­tomime pro­ducer in my home town of­fered me a job shift­ing scenery and be­ing a Ninja Tur­tle. And that is when I got my Eq­uity card.’

Jones sub­se­quently met Lon­don co­me­dian Cor­den – now a star in the US – on the set of TV drama Fat Friends, set in Leeds, where they be­gan work on a project that would be­come Gavin And Stacey.

She adds: ‘He talked a bit about this idea he’d had about a wed­ding be­tween a Welsh girl and an English boy... and be­cause we were stay­ing in a ho­tel we used to sort of peo­ple-watch in the bar – that would be the drunk aun­tie and that would be the geeky un­cle. We wrote up these char­ac­ters... it kind of went from there re­ally.’ The pair sent the idea to Stu­art Mur­phy, then con­troller of BBC Three. ‘I can still re­mem­ber get­ting an email from Stu­art Mur­phy say­ing, “I think this is go­ing to be one of the best things that BBC Three ever makes”,’ says Jones, who played bol­shie Nessa Jenk­ins in the sit­com, which co-starred not only Cor­den but also for­mer school pal Rob Bry­don.

The first se­ries – with Mathew Horne and Joanna Page in the lead roles – aired in 2007 with 550,000 view­ers. The third and fi­nal se­ries on BBC1 in 2009 had ten mil­lion.

On Desert Is­land Discs, the mother-of-three picks Un­der­neath The Stars by Kate Rusby as one of her songs as it re­minds her of loved ones who have re­cently died.

MATCH: Ruth Jones and James Cor­den as on-off cou­ple Nessa and Smithy

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