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Best British TV Shows -Gavin And Stacey
Best of British Comedy-Gavin and Stacey
Gavin and Stacey is about two young people in love - so much in love that they won't let the 500 miles between them keep them apart. So much in love that after their first date, Gavin drives 500 miles just to see Stacey smile.
This love story is about 2 people in love bridging that divide and proving that long-distance romance doesn't always end if failure.
Best of all, Gavin and Stacey is very, very funny.
Gavin and Stacey was written and created by James Corden and Ruth Jones, two actors who had worked together on a previous comedy-drama, Fat Friends. They had become friends on that show and discovered a shared interest in comedy writing.
It would take them a few years between Fat Friends and Gavin and Stacey to pull together a set of scripts with which they were happy. The next step was to assemble what was to become one of the best ensemble casts in a British comedy.
In some respects, Corden and Jones followed a well-known story formula to create the story of Gavin and Stacey. It is popular to take characters somewhere unknown or strange or out of their comfort zone and then see how they cope with this new environment.
We have seen it in loads of movies and also in a few comedy movies and it is an interesting device for storytelling.
So where did Jones and Corden take Stacey and Gavin?
Gavin and Stacey - Billericay, England and Barry Island, Wales
Now hang on, aren't England and Wales right next door to one another and isn't a Brit just a Brit.
Aren't we all the same?
In Gavin and Stacey, the differences between the English and the Welsh is part of the story, an important part - the Welsh idiosyncrasies in particular are quite amusing but Gavin and Stacey is about young people in love.
Along the way, it manages to be about the differences in the generations, about empty nest syndrome and 'full house' revivial.
Gavin and Stacey covers topics like one night stands, love at first sight, homosexuality, childbirth, political incorrectness and a host of other things.
James Corden and Ruth Jones manage to weave a wonderful comedy with about eight or nine characters. They throw in a few catchphrases along the way for some of the characters and manage to elicit some top-drawer comic performances from the likes of Alison Steadman, Larry Lamb and the wonderful Rob Bryden as Uncle Bryn.
Gavin and Stacey - Nessa's Interesting Past
Ruth Jones plays Nessa, the Welsh tough-nut who is Stacey's best friend and also sometime lover of Smithy, Gavin's best-mate.
Nessa throws us little tidbits of information about her colourful past every once in a while and Ruth Jones is such a good actress that we are completely taken in by her tall tales.
Her possible relationship with Mohamed and Dodi Alfayed is mentioned in the video I have included but Nessa is just as likely to tell us about her time as a roadie, her stint as ex-Deputy Prime-Minister, John Prescott's private secretary, her stint working for MI6 or her coaching of an Olympic team.
Nessa has lived! Ruth Jones also gave us a tee-shirt worthy catchphrase, "What's Occurin'?" and her loud, forceful "Oh" if she wanted to stop you in your tracks.
Nessa is basically the hardcase with a heart of gold and we are drawn to her because of it.
Smithy is drawn to this chubby maneater in spite of himself. Nessa, for her part, is the most confident, self-assured woman in Wales. She fears nobody, indeed others admire her and want to be like her.
Her dress sense is semi-gothic with a bit of girl about town thrown in. She could live on omlettes! Just as well as that is all that Gwen, Stacey's mam ever cooks!
Billericay Boys - Gavin and Smithy
Gavin works in London, Stacey works in Barry for the same company and for months they have been chatting on the phone and emailing one another as part of their job. Their communication has led to a certain curiosity about one another and they agree to meet in London.
Stacey takes Nessa for security reasons. Nessa thinks Gavin could be some kind of nutcase and fears for her friend travelling to London alone. They go on the bus together and are met by Gavin and his mate, Smithy straight off the bus.
A day of heavy drinking ensues and then some nightclubbing. All four go back to the hotel room booked by Stacey and Nessa - Gavin and Stacey go to bed and Nessa and Smithy somewhat reluctantly (he doesn't fancy her, she's doesn't fancy him) go to the bathroom and have sex, accepting that they're making the best of things.
In the morning, Gavin is already madly in love and tells Smithy he thinks he's met the girl of his dreams. Smithy is full of wonder about Nessa's sexual prowess and has also had a night to remember though he and Nessa say goodbye without fuss - it was a one night stand pure and simple. As viewers though, we know we haven't seen the last of the fireworks from these two.
And so this love story begins and the Billericay boys go home and Stacey and Nessa hop back on the bus to Barry Island and return to Wales.
Gavin returns to his devoted parents Pamela and Mick and Pamela as always hugs her 'little prince' and Mick shakes his head at all the fuss. Smithy calls his long-time girlfriend who we never ever see but seems to be a devoted girl guide and all out athletic type.
Gavin and Stacey - Barry Girls - Stacey, Nessa, Gwen and Doris
And so to our Welsh ladies, Stacey, Nessa, Gwen and Doris.
Stacey lives in Barry with her mum, Gwen. Her dad dies a few years ago so Gwen and Stacey are there for one another and very close.
Uncle Bryn lives right across the road.
In the first series of Gavin and Stacey, Nessa is living in Gwen's spare room and Gwen is feeding her and doing her washing etc. Nessa works in the amusements - handing out change to people playing the slot machines - nobody messes with Nessa.
Uncle Bryn is the main man (apart from Dave Coaches) in the lives of these ladies -Bryn is a real gentleman, a lovely bloke if not a little eccentric. He is played by the wonderful and very funny, Rob Brydon.
Doris and Nessa - An Uneasy Truce
Doris is Gwen's neighbour, a lady in her early seventies who is as broad-minded a woman as you could meet and swears like a trooper.
She has a fling with a twenty-one year old Barry lad but can't cope with his pot-smoking or drinking wine for breakfast but she doesn't mind having a go.
Nessa owes Doris quite a lot of cash and Doris is beginning to realise that she may never, ever get it back (see video).
Doris is helping with Nessa's wedding preparation and everybody has contributed to the buffet (except Nessa of course).
Doris patience has finally run out when Nessa asks her to provide the salad!
Gavin and Stacey - A 'Small' Show That Made It Big
Gavin and Stacey lasted 3 series and had 1 wonderful Christmas special.
The series was made by Steve Coogan's production company, Baby Cow Productions (a reference to his character Paul 'Calf').
The first series was first shown on the little-watched TV channel, BBC3 but after only 2 or 3 episodes those that were watching it were talking about it and word of mouth soon had other people tuning in, leading to it being one of the most watched programmes on BBC3.
After six months the BBC bowed to pressure and finally got around to showing Gavin and Stacey on BBC1 which is when it really took off as a comedy.
It won numerous awards after its first series and James Corden and Ruth Jones found time between acting jobs to write another series and the second series was every bit as good as the first. The third series began to cross the comedy dvivide with a few more dramatic elements - Smithy really wanted to see his son more and even considered moving to Wales.
He is secretly devastated when Dave Coaches proposes to Nessa in Billericay at Christmas and it is then he realises how much he really wants her.
Some watchers didn't like the more dramatic developments but the comedy was always kept to the fore and if anything the dramatic counterpoints made everybody keep watching - Gavin and Stacey didn't quite become a soap opera but it borrowed from soap opera formula to keep the series popular.
Gavin and Stacey ended (for good?) in 2010 but already rumours are circulating of a possible return and there is a rumour of a U.S. version soon - wonder what format that might take? A Southern Belle falling in love with a Boston Red Sox fan? Who knows, I will watch it whatever shape it takes.