Gavin & Stacey

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Gavin & Stacey
Gavin & Stacey.svg
Genre
Created by
Written by
Directed byChristine Gernon
Starring
Opening theme"Run" by Stephen Fretwell
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes20 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Ted Dowd
Camera setupFilm, Single camera
Running time
  • 19x 30mins
  • 1x 60mins
  • 2x 8mins
Production company(s)Baby Cow Productions
Release
Original network
Picture format1080i (16:9)
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseOriginal series:
13 May 2007 (2007-05-13) –
1 January 2010 (2010-01-01)
Christmas Special:
25 December 2019 (2019-12-25)

Gavin & Stacey is a British sitcom, written by James Corden and Ruth Jones, that follows the coming together of two quirky families – one from Essex and one from Wales – after a young couple fall in love. Mathew Horne and Joanna Page play the titular characters, while the writers also star as Gavin and Stacey's friends, Smithy and Nessa. Other prominent cast members include Alison Steadman and Larry Lamb, who play Gavin's parents, Pam and Mick, and Melanie Walters and Rob Brydon, who portray Stacey's mother, Gwen, and her uncle, Bryn.

The show was produced by Baby Cow Productions for BBC Wales. It initially ran for a total of 20 episodes across three series, broadcast from 13 May 2007 to 1 January 2010. Initially, the series was shown on BBC Three, but a growing following meant that it was subsequently moved to BBC Two, and finally BBC One. The last episodes of the final series formed a significant part of the prime time BBC seasonal programming, and were broadcast on Christmas Day 2009 and New Year's Day 2010.

Gavin & Stacey was acclaimed as a hit breakthrough show for BBC Three, becoming the most nominated show in the 2007 British Comedy Awards. It won several awards, including the British Academy Television Awards (BAFTAs) Audience Award, and the British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Award, both in 2008. The programme has also been well received in several other countries in which it has aired. In 2019, Gavin & Stacey was named the 17th greatest British sitcom in a poll by Radio Times.[1] In May 2019, Corden announced that he and Jones have written a Christmas special that will air on BBC One on Christmas Day.[2]

A US remake titled Us & Them was scheduled to air on Fox in the 2013–14 US TV season, but was shut down mid-production and no episodes were broadcast by Fox.[3][4]

Scenario[edit]

The show follows the romance between Gavin, from Billericay in Essex, and Stacey, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. Initially, Gavin lives with his parents, Pam and Mick, and spends most of his time with his best friend, Smithy. Stacey lives with her widowed mother, Gwen, and is frequently visited by her uncle, Bryn, who lives across the road, and by her best friend Nessa. The series follows the key moments in their relationship: their first meeting, meeting each other's families, getting engaged, marrying, looking for a flat, briefly splitting up, looking for new jobs and trying for children.

The characters of Gavin and Stacey provide the emotional core of the story. The show focuses on the situations that arise when their relationship brings their two differing families together. As a result, episodes often focus on the key events in life that bring wider families and close friends together such as weddings, christenings, birthday parties and Christmases. However, the show also presents the families interacting in deliberately non-dramatic situations, such as a visit to the beach and nights out.

A significant second storyline follows the contrasting relationship between Smithy and Nessa. Despite their dislike for each other, they have several one-night stands, leading to Nessa becoming pregnant and having their baby. Whilst Gavin and Stacey are the clear main characters, towards the end of the show's run, the dramatic emphasis switches slightly from them, as they resolve their distance issues, to Smithy and Nessa, as Nessa becomes engaged to another man.

Other storylines that run throughout the course of the three series include Pam's fake vegetarianism, Bryn and his nephew Jason's struggle to keep the events of their disastrous fishing trip a secret (with the outcome never actually being revealed), and the ridiculously rocky marriage of Pam's friends Pete and Dawn.

Characters and cast[edit]

Main characters[edit]

James Corden and Ruth Jones, co-writers and stars of the show
  • Gavin Shipman (Mathew Horne) – nicknamed "alfie", "Gavlar", or "Gavalar", the funny and enthusiastic level-headed protagonist from Billericay, Essex.
  • Stacey Shipman (née West) (Joanna Page) – bubbly protagonist from Barry.
  • Neil "Smithy" Smith (James Corden) – Gavin's oldest and closest friend, who also lives in Billericay, Essex. Smithy often gets jealous of Gavin and Stacey’s relationship, and has a complicated relationship with Nessa, later fathering a child with her.
  • Vanessa Shanessa "Nessa" Jenkins (Ruth Jones) – Stacey's oldest and closest friend, who is also from Barry. Nessa has several celebrity connections, such as MP John Prescott, and later begins a relationship with Dave “Coaches” Lloyd Gooch. She also has a baby with Smithy in series 2, Neil Noel Edmund Smith.
  • Michael "Mick" Shipman (Larry Lamb) – Gavin's down-to-earth father. He is humble and caring, and often gets confused with his wife’s eccentricities.
  • Pamela Andrea "Pam" Shipman (née Gryglaszewska) (Alison Steadman) – Gavin's house-proud and over-protective mother. She can be eccentric in her focuses, and often rambles and forgets what she is saying.
  • Brynfor "Bryn" West (Rob Brydon) – known as "Uncle Bryn"; Stacey's protective, yet naïve and eccentric uncle, and Gwen's brother-in-law. Bryn’s brother, Trevor, Stacey’s father, died prior to the time depicted in the series, which Bryn helped the family cope with. He has a difficult relationship with his nephew, Jason, due to something happening on a ‘fishing trip’ they went on together. It is occasionally implied that he is attracted to men.
  • Gwen West (Melanie Walters) – Stacey's caring, widowed mother. She also has an elder son, Jason, who lives in Spain. She constantly is making omelettes.

Supporting roles[edit]

  • Jason West (Robert Wilfort) – Stacey's gay elder brother, who lives in Spain.
  • Dawn Sutcliffe (Julia Davis) – a close friend of Pam and Mick, who frequently has public arguments with husband Pete.
  • Peter "Pete" Sutcliffe (Adrian Scarborough) – a close friend of Pam and Mick, husband to Dawn, with whom he frequently has public arguments.
  • David “Coaches" Lloyd Gooch (Steffan Rhodri) – local coach driver, later fiancé to Nessa. He appeared in the first episode when Stacey went to London to meet Gavin.
  • Doris O'Neill (Margaret John) – elderly but lively neighbour of Gwen, and close friend of the West family.
  • Ruth "Rudi" Smith (Sheridan Smith) – Smithy's immature, but loving, younger sister who also likes to be called 'Smithy'. Works at a fast food restaurant in Billericay.
  • Catherina "Cath" Smith (Pam Ferris) – Smithy's single mother, suffers from 'a mild form of narcolepsy' (which Pam thinks is a cover for a drinking problem).
  • Dirtbox (Andrew Knott) – a friend of Gavin and Smithy.
  • Deano (Mathew Baynton) – a friend of Gavin and Smithy, who works with Smithy as a builder and appears to be very dim-witted.
  • Budgie (Russell Tovey) – a friend of Gavin and Smithy.
  • Chinese Alan (Dominic Gaskell) – a friend of Gavin and Smithy, he has this nickname despite not being Chinese but it appears to be connected with his catchphrase; 'Did someone order a Chinese?'.
  • Craig "Fingers" (Samuel Anderson) – a friend of Gavin and Smithy, who has an on/off relationship with Stacey's friend Louise, after they meet at the wedding and have sex in a back room.
  • Jesus (Daniel Curtis) – a friend of Gavin and Smithy.
  • Gary (Jason Gregg) and Simon – friends of Gavin and Smithy, who are never just Gary or Simon.
  • Swede (John Grisley) – a friend of Gavin and Smithy.
  • Louise (Ffion Williams) – a friend of Stacey and Nessa, who has an on/off relationship with Gavin and Smithy's friend Fingers, after they meet at the wedding and have sex in a back room.
  • Anje (Beth Granville) – a friend of Stacey and Nessa.
  • Neil Jenkins (Huw Dafydd) – Nessa's father, rarely seen in Barry, but attended Neil the baby's christening.
  • Owain Hughes (Steve Meo) – Website Manager in Gavin's new job in Cardiff. He has the cocky but confusing catchphrase: 'Owain Hughes, and before you ask, no I don't'.
  • Dick Powell (Gwynfor Roberts) – the only fully Welsh-speaking inhabitant of Barry (aside from the Welsh nationalists in the caravan park), he works on the black market selling meat.
  • Neil "the Baby" Noel Edmond Smith (Ewan Kennedy, Oscar Hartland, Rocco Romanello) – Smithy and Nessa's son. He is named after Smithy and Nessa's father(who are both called Neil), Nessa's mate from Hear'Say (Noel Sullivan), and Smithy's grandfather Edmond "Papa Ed". In the episode of the christening, Gavin humorously says that Neil is named after Noel Edmonds, which Smithy gets annoyed over.

Character names[edit]

The use of the surnames of known English serial killers for some of the main characters – Shipman, West and Sutcliffe – was deliberate.[5] Ruth Jones commented in 2009: "I suppose we were hoping that people wouldn't realise and then when it does come to light, it's even more delicious..."[6][7]

Guest appearances[edit]

Although the production team received requests, the show declined to use celebrity guests for cameo roles in the 2008 Christmas special; however, both Noel Sullivan and John Prescott made brief cameo appearances at the end of the final series.[8][9] Both figures had formed the basis of long-running jokes throughout the series. Nessa occasionally refers to Sullivan as her housemate; a member of the band she initially lives with. Nessa had also claimed to have had an affair with Prescott.

Plot[edit]

Series 1[edit]

The initial series begins with the lives of the title characters, Gavin Shipman (Mathew Horne) and Stacey West (Joanna Page). Gavin is 28 and lives at home in Billericay, Essex, with his parents, Mick (Larry Lamb) and Pam (Alison Steadman). He and Stacey, along with their respective best friends Neil "Smithy" Smith (James Corden) and Nessa Jenkins (Ruth Jones), go out on a double date. The night ends with Gavin and Stacey returning to a hotel room and sleeping together, as do Smithy and Nessa. Gavin and Stacey become infatuated with each other, but Smithy and Nessa are happy to forget their drunken one-night stand and make little contact with one another afterwards. In the rest of the series, Gavin and Stacey continue their long-distance relationship before becoming engaged and getting married on 6 April 2007. The series ends with Nessa going to inform Smithy that she is pregnant with his child but changes her mind at the last minute.

Series 2[edit]

The second series begins with the newlyweds arriving from a honeymoon in Greece. The in-laws meet again at the Shipmans' house in Essex, where Nessa has some shocking revelations – especially for Smithy, who learns that she is pregnant with his baby, and although he makes it clear he thoroughly dislikes the woman, he is generally civil and supportive towards her about their child. Meanwhile, Gavin and Stacey, living at Pam and Mick's house, run into trouble when Stacey struggles to find a job and becomes home-sick for Barry and her family. The couple try to overcome their problem by looking for an apartment or house in Essex, but Stacey is still dissatisfied and is considering moving back to South Wales to be with her family. In the final episode of the series, Stacey takes off her wedding ring, much to the upset of Gavin, but this is interrupted by the news of Nessa unexpectedly going into labour a month early. Pam, Mick and Stacey hurry across to Wales, whilst Gavin rushes to find Smithy with Smithy's sister, Rudi (Sheridan Smith), eventually finding him in the pub watching football. They arrive to find that Nessa has given birth to a boy, Neil. Gavin and Stacey decide to put their differences aside and are together once again.

Christmas Special (2008)[edit]

An extended Christmas special involves Stacey's family, along with Nessa and her partner, Dave Coaches (Steffan Rhodri), spending Christmas with Gavin's parents. Gavin reveals that he has found a job in Cardiff, which at first causes upset for Pam and Smithy, but they both learn to accept it. Gavin later admits to Smithy that he is moving to Barry with Stacey in order to save his marriage. Smithy also gets upset when he feels that Dave, who lives with the baby, Neil, is replacing him as a father. Smithy is furthermore unhappy after Dave proposes to Nessa (with the ring enclosed in a cigarette packet), and she accepts.

Series 3[edit]

Gavin begins on his new job in Wales and his parents and Smithy travel to Wales for Neil's christening. In the next episode Gavin and Stacey, and Nessa and her child Neil, spend the weekend at Pam and Mick's, and after a drunken night, it is believed that Nessa and Smithy may have once again had sex after waking up in bed together the next morning. Gavin and Stacey begin trying for a baby and Stacey is upset and disappointed when she learns that they may not be able to have children. Gavin becomes depressed and preoccupied with this issue, and in an attempt to cheer him up, Pam, Mick and Smithy arrange a surprise trip to Barry beach on a sunny bank holiday. Nessa and Dave also run into trouble after Dave learns about her alleged sexual intercourse with Smithy, but the two decide to go ahead with the wedding. In the final episode, Stacey discovers she is pregnant after all, and the couple are overjoyed and excited. Smithy shows up at Nessa and Dave's wedding ceremony with Neil, pleading for her not to marry him, and accusing her of not loving Dave. Dave, much to everyone's surprise, agrees with Smithy that Nessa does not love him, and the ceremony is called off. The series ends showing the four (Gavin, Stacey, Nessa and Smithy) six months later on Barry beachfront, with a visibly pregnant Stacey.

Christmas Special (2019)[edit]

In May 2019, Corden announced that he and Jones have written a Christmas special that will air on BBC One on Christmas Day. Stars and writers Ruth Jones and James Corden are back almost 10 years after the original ending of the show for a new Christmas special.

Episodes[edit]

The series consists of twenty episodes, broadcast over three series, and a Christmas Eve special. The first series comprised six half-hour episodes and first aired in 2007, from 13 May to 10 June 2007. The show was extended to seven episodes for the second series, which first ran in 2008, from 16 March to 20 April. The 2008 Christmas Eve special was an hour long. The third series reverted to six episodes and began on 26 November 2009, with the last two episodes of the series and show being aired on Christmas Day 2009 and New Year's Day 2010.

The BBC has also broadcast several documentaries alongside the show, examining the making of the show and showcasing a selection of 'out-takes' from the filming.

Production[edit]

Rob Brydon played Uncle Bryn
Alison Steadman played Pam Shipman

The idea for the show occurred to actor James Corden during a wedding reception, and he then developed the idea with co-writer Ruth Jones, whom he had met during the filming of ITV drama Fat Friends. Corden claims to have been inspired by the story of his own real life best friend Gavin, who met his wife over the phone at work, and arranged to meet. They presented it to the BBC as a one-off play, but the BBC instead asked for a full series.[10]

The roles of Gavin and Stacey were cast through an auditioning process, but were almost immediately given to Mathew Horne and Joanna Page on the strength of their chemistry together. The roles of Nessa and Smithy were written by Corden and Jones for themselves. Some roles were written with certain actors in mind; Uncle Bryn was written specifically for Rob Brydon, who had been to school with Jones, whilst Pam was written specifically for Alison Steadman, who had also worked on Fat Friends. Jones had worked with Julia Davis in her sitcom Nighty Night, and the role of Dawn was written with her in mind. Additionally, Corden had appeared with Adrian Scarborough in the Alan Bennett-penned play and film, The History Boys, which led to him being cast in the role of Pete. An audition process was used to cast the roles of Mick and Gwen, whilst the roles of Gavin's friends were given to Corden's co-stars in The History Boys.

Although the programme is set in Billericay, Essex, and Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, the three series were shot largely in Cardiff (which acted as the city itself but also as parts of Billericay), and also in Barry itself and the surrounding area, including Dinas Powys, Sully and Penarth. The show's popularity has been credited with boosting the tourist trade to Barry and its popular seafront of Barry Island, through visitors wishing to visit the various filming locations. Gavin's house was set in Billericay but was actually filmed on location in Laburnum Way, Dinas Powys in Wales. The opening episode features location shooting in Leicester Square in London which was filmed in 2006. [9][11][12]

After the debut of the show on BBC Three, a second series was soon commissioned. Speaking about the second series, Corden said "It's the show that we wanted to make. If people like it, they like it: if they don't, they don't. That's a nice feeling, that's quite freeing... There's more of a journey and more of a story. We hope the viewers will feel like they've been taken on a little trip by it", while Jones said "Series one had a very specific storyline to it, boy meets girl and it ends in a wedding. We don't have the same type of storyline in the second series. It's now girl lives with boy's parents in Essex and the joys that might entail."[13]

There was initially uncertainty over whether a third series would be produced. In an April 2008 interview, Jones said "We never intended to write a second series let alone a third. We don't want it to become predictable. We will see how the Christmas special goes and take it from there." Corden added: "We will write one if we can make it better. We have to be true to ourselves."[14] Corden and Jones completed the final draft of the Christmas Special by September 2008, although they ruled out writing the third series at the time due to pressures of other work, and repeating the wish not to produce a sub-standard script.[8] After the 2008 Christmas special premiere, BBC Three aired a making-of documentary about the special, titled 12 Days of Christmas.[15]

Corden and Jones eventually announced there would be a third series produced, on 21 December 2008 just before the 2008 Christmas special aired, as Jones performed her final BBC Radio Wales Sunday Brunch radio show to a live audience on Barry Island.[16][17]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

The first and second series were premièred on the digital only channel BBC Three (which at the time was still airing terrestrially), and were promoted to repeat airings on BBC Two. The 2008 Christmas Special and third series were first aired on BBC One, by which time the first and second series had also been repeated on BBC One.[16] The penultimate episode of the series, on Christmas Day 2009, was the fourth most watched programme of the day.[9] The show's finale on the following New Year's Day was the fifth most watched programme on that day, behind EastEnders, Coronation Street and Doctor Who.[9]