Last updated: 09 December 2009
Ruth Jones stars in A Child's Christmases in Wales - a charming seasonal single comedy drama for BBC Four written by comedian Mark Watson.
Thursday 17 December, 10pm, BBC Four
Thursday 24 December, 6.10pm, BBC One Wales
The 'child's Christmas' evoked by Dylan Thomas, and the inspiration for this captivating story, is a montage of many idyllic, colourful festive seasons rolled into one delicious dream. But for young Owen Rhys, growing up in a terraced house in 1980s south Wales, Christmas is a rather less poetic affair - though just as eventful.
Every Christmas, the peace and quiet of Owen's house - where he lives with his pessimistic father and his obsessively tidy mother - is shattered by the arrival of three family members: Owen's two uncles and his cousin Maurice. In a series of glimpses from three Christmases across the decade, Owen and Maurice grow from boys into young men, while his dad and uncles seem to regress to a childhood of sibling rivalry and Owen's mum watches in despair.
The years change - but the Christmas routine remains the same. Dad (Mark Lewis Jones) and his older brother, Hugh (Steve Speirs), bicker and undermine each other; Hugh's son Maurice and Owen are forced into competitive games which play out their respective fathers' rivalries; the youngest brother, the black sheep Gorwel (Paul Kaye), arrives late, doles out badly-judged presents, and usually destroys the bathroom; while Owen's mother Brenda tries to prevent everything from going to pieces.
Ruth Jones plays Brenda, matriarch of the family and the only woman in the film, who sees Christmas as a chore. The film follows the Rhys family as they celebrate Christmas in 1983, 1986 and 1989 and share in the strange traditions and simmering tension unique to the family.
As we follow the family through the 1980s, the boys grow into men, whilst Owen's dad and his uncles seem to regress into childish behaviour and sibling rivalry. Yet despite all this antagonism there is a peculiar joy in that certainty that they couldn't really have Christmas without the family.
Mum is played by Ruth Jones, Dad by Mark Lewis Jones, Uncle Huw by Steve Speirs and Uncle Gorwel by Paul Kaye.
Ruth describes Brenda as "obsessive about cleanliness, tidiness and order.
"To her Christmas is just a chore that has to be got through, as is entertaining her husband Geraint's family every year. She questions the lifestyle and behaviour of both her brothers-in-law, Huw and Gorwel but keeps her opinions private."
Owen's father Geraint (played by Mark Lewis-Jones) and his brother Hugh (Steve Spiers) bicker and undermine each other and it's down to mum Brenda to try and stop everything falling to pieces.