Gavin And Stacey (BBC3, 2007-2008, BBC1, 2008-2010, 2019)
BBC3 isn’t really a channel that is remembered much for featuring classic sitcoms (although there were a few good ones of course), but this is arguably the most successful of them all. Gavin And Stacey was written by Ruth Jones and James Corden. I was already familiar with Jones following her memorable performance as Linda in the rather dark sitcom Nighty Night, while Corden had already appeared in a few comedy shows too.
Jones and Corden had also previously worked together in the ITV drama series Fat Friends, and they really came up with a big success here. One of the reasons the show did well was because it featured the basic idea of two young people having a friendship develop to the point that they slowly fall in love. But there was a twist… they lived in different parts of the UK!
Gavin works at an electronics company in Billericay in Essex (a place that I am familiar with myself, it’s a long story). He often likes to talk on the phone to Stacey who also works in electronics in Barry in Wales. They are rather aware that the distance between them makes any chance of seeing each other problematic, but they are determined to make it happen. This was clearly the most exciting Wales/England love match since Helen and Paul on Big Brother in 2001.
There was also a terrific support cast. On Stacey’s side there was her mother and uncle Bryn, along with Vanessa, while on Gavin’s side there were his parents, and among his mates was Smithy (not to be confused with Smiffy from The Bash Street Kids). When the two families do eventually meet, naturally there is something of a culture clash, but they do manage to bond.
Vanessa and Smithy have a child together, while Gavin and Stacey do marry. The show seemed to work because the acting styles were easy-going, and the dialogue was rather natural (and it contained a catchphrase or two which always helps). Essentially the show triumphed because viewers were bothered either way about happened, and wanted the best for these people, meaning that it wasn’t just the families that were pleased when the big wedding day finally came.
The show also won plenty of awards, and was soon promoted to BBC1. There were three series of Gavin And Stacey that have been released on DVD and contain plenty of extras. There was also a book released which was up to standard, and contained plenty of good features, such as some emails that Gavin and Stacey had sent to each other, Smithy’s pub quiz, and I was particularly amused to discover that Vanessa’s middle name is “Shanessa”.
The cast then had a Comic Relief-backed hit single with their rowdy version of “Islands In The Stream”, and Corden went on to much more high-profile TV work. About a decade later, there was an announcement that there would be a one-off special for Christmas, would viewers be interested in where all the characters are now? Well not only did we see the regulars return, but this also went on to be one of the highest-rated TV shows of the entire decade, getting an audience that most soaps would’ve been proud of. It was clearly worth it then.