Gavin & Stacey: Why we fell in love with Barry Island

By Emma Saunders
Entertainment reporter

Gavin and Stacey
Image caption,
The Barry and Essex gangs - back together for another Christmas

It's been nearly 10 years since we last said adieu to Gavin and Stacey (and Nessa and Smithy, of course).

But fans have never given up hope of another reunion and they've now been rewarded with the news that a second Christmas special is in the works.

Show creators James Corden and Ruth Jones - who also play on-off couple Nessa and Smithy - are uniting again to pen the one-off episode.

The original cast will all return, including Rob Brydon and Larry Lamb.

So how did the original show capture our hearts (and our funny bones?)

Image source, BBC

Gavin and Stacey aired over three series, plus a Christmas special, from 2007 to 2010 on the BBC.

It told the story of Gavin (Horne), from Essex, and Stacey (Page), from Barry in Wales, who fell in love and married after speaking on the phone to each other every day at work.

The sitcom was a breakthrough hit for BBC Three and the 2008 Christmas special and third series moved to BBC One.

The show's 2010 New Year's Day finale had record ratings for the series with 10.3 million viewers.

Gavin and Stacey introduced Barry to the masses and the sharp, witty one-liners, warm and believable characters and touching pathos had viewers hooked from the get-go.

And a stellar cast which included the likes of Larry Lamb, Alison Steadman, Julia Davis, ensured perfect delivery.

Some reviewers felt the show lost something in its move to mainstream TV but they were few and far between.

Metro described the last Christmas special as the "greatest festive TV special ever".

And the show won a slew of awards, including two Baftas, four British Comedy awards and a National Television award.

It even featured a cameo appearance from former deputy PM John Prescott - an old flame of Nessa's (of course!)

Quotability and those memes

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The show won a heap of awards

If we had £1 for every time someone shouted out "What's occurrin?'" to Ruth Jones in the street, we'd be millionaires, right?

But rather than be irritated, Jones has previously said she's flattered.

"It's a compliment," she said.

"Especially now when so much time has passed."

Media caption,
What's occurin' in Barry after the news of Gavin and Stacey's return?

Melanie Walters, who played Stacey's mother, Gwen West, who was forever cooking omelettes in the kitchen, said: "Still to this day people come up and ask me to make an omelette."


Of course, social media was in its infancy when Gavin and Stacey first hit the small screen.

Remember Uncle Bryn (Brydon's) excitement when he joined MySpace?

"I've been updating the MySpace, I've got 17 friends - I'm snowed under!" Bless.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

And Smithy and Rudi's (Sheridan Smith) American Boy rap?

Figure caption,
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Gavin and Stacey might have begun when Twitter was just a year old but social media has certainly kept it in the nation's psyche over the past nine years.

Some fine soul has even set up a Twitter account especially for that purpose. Tidy.

So where have they been?

Image caption,
Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan began a successful partnership in The Trip

Co-creator Corden has seriously hit the big time after landing the Late, Late Show gig in the US.

His Carpool Karaoke segment, featuring A-listers such as Sir Paul McCartney, Adele and Michelle Obama, has helped propel him to global stardom. He's also hosted the likes of The Grammys and The Tony Awards.

Back in Blighty, he's also the host of Sky quiz show A League of Their Own and co-created and starred in BBC Two's The Wrong Mans. He picked up a string of awards for the National Theatre's One Man Two Guvnors.

Ruth Jones has since landed acting roles in period dramas such as Little Dorritt and Tess of the D'urbervilles and had the leading role in Sky drama Stella.

Mathew Horne's life after Gavin & Stacey has been more low key - he and Corden released comedy horror Lesbian Vampire Killers in 2009 but it was widely panned by critics.

But he did star in BBC Three's Bad Education and Sky's Agatha Raisin and reprised his role as the grandson of Catherine Tate's Nan character in 2014/2015.

Joanna Page has had a few small roles in the likes of Doctor Who in recent years but she's clearly ready to return for a bit of arcade action.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Brydon has gone on to film several shows with Steve Coogan, including The Trip to Italy, and has presented the BBC One comedy panel show Would I Lie to You? since 2009.


Image caption,
Horne & Corden was a BBC Three sketch show

The 'bromance' between Horne and Corden was allegedly put under strain by the fall-out from the afore-mentioned Lesbian Vampire Killers, a not well-received joint hosting of the Brits and the pair's self-titled sketch show, which Corden later described as a "mistake".

But Horne told The Mirror in 2016: "James remains a friend and never wasn't a friend. We have remained friends ever since we met.

"We have done various bits of work together and now we are both off doing other things.

"He is still the same old James really - just that he's now earning millions in Hollywood, meeting mega stars and interviewing them."

Clearly the pair will have to work together for the new one-off special, so things must be OK.

Sadly, we won't be seeing the magnificent Margaret John, who played Gwen's next door neighbour Doris. John died in 2011 after a short illness at the age of 84.

What happened to Neil?

Nessa and Smithy's baby son Neil is now all grown-up. Or, at least he's in double figures.

The real-life Neil - Lewis from Swansea - is a big Gavin and Stacey fan apparently but we'll have to wait to see if he'll be making an appearance in the special.

What can we expect from the new special?

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Larry Lamb, who plays Gav's dad, Mick Shipman, told BBC's World at One that he found out about the new episode when he took a phone call from Los Angeles and it was Corden. Then began a "two-month 'keep-a-secret thing', and it's not been easy, I tell you."

Asked about what the storyline may be, he said: "I'm not allowed to say… but I have to tell you something… I literally got the script just before I came on [air] and I read the first scene and I was weeping."

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