on 1 November 2015
How I LOVE this show! Such a shame it finished after three series', but, at the same time, it finished while it was still brilliant and had reached a natural conclusion.Pure television gold, it's no overstatement to declare 'Gavin And Stacey' one of Britain's most well-written and most-loved sitcoms of all time.
Gavin (Mathew Horne) is an ordinary lad from Billerciay in Essex, and Stacey (Joanna Page) an ordinary (though giddy) girl from Barry Island in the Valley of Glamorgan, Wales. The two have been speaking to each other every day at work. At the beginning of the series Gavin lives with his parents, his over-protective mum Pam (Alison Steadman) and the mild-mannered Mick (Larry Lamb), and spends most of his recreational time with his best friend Smithy (James Corden). Stacey lives with her kind, caring and widowed mother, Gwen (Melanie Waters), They are frequently visited by her eccentric but well-meaning Bryn (Rob Brydon), who lives just across the road from them, and her best friend Nessa (Ruth Jones).
Series One, originally aired on the digital channel BBC Three and immediately greeted with a warm, positive reception from critics, focuses on the steady build-up of the romance between Gavin and Stacey. In the first episode, after months of chatting and flirting with each other on the phone Gavin and Stacey finally meet. They make it a double date with Gavin's best friend Smithy and Stacey's best friend Nessa in tow. While Gavin and Stacey immediately hit off face to face, there is a degree of hostility and awkwardness between Smithy and Nessa. However, as the night progresses, and with several alcoholic beverages consumed, an attraction between Smithy and Nessa becomes apparent. The night ends with them all returning to their hotel room, and sleeping together. While Gavin and Stacey are clearly smitten with one another, the next day Smithy and Nessa are more than happy to forget their drunken one-night stand and make very little contact with one another afterwards.As the series continues, Gavin and Stacey announce their engagement, leading to their two respective families meeting one another and getting to know each other. However, there is trouble when it's announced they intend to marry in Barry Island, much to the horror of Gavin's mother, Pam. It later transpires that Stacey has been engaged no less than six times, which leaves a question mark hanging over their future. Along the way, Smithy and Nessa also have another drunken fling. In the last episode of Series One, Gavin and Stacey get married and Nessa discovers she's pregnant, the father being Smithy. In the last scene, Nessa tries to tell a somewhat irresponsive Smithy about the baby but changes her mind.
Series Two sees a change in dynamics: It begins with the newlyweds arriving home after a three week honeymoon in Greece. The in-laws all meet again at Pam and Mick's where Smithy discovers that Nessa is pregnant with his baby. Initially shocked, he promises her that he will be there for both her and the baby. Stacey finds herself severely homesick living with Gavin's parents and finds it hard to adjust, especially when finding it difficult to find paid work. To try and overcome this problem, they try to look for their own place to rent but Stacey is still unhappy and in the last episode in Series Two she takes off her wedding ring, much to the dismay of Gavin.This is soon interrupted by the news that Nessa has gone into labour unexpectedly and a month early. Nessa gives birth to a boy whom she names Neil and Gavin and Stacey also reunite.
The Christmas Special, broadcast in 2008, is great fun and an hour long. Stacey's family along with Nessa and her partner Dave Coaches (Steffan Rhodri) all pile into Pam and Mick's for Christmas. Gavin announces that he has found a job in Cardiff, leaving Pam and Smithy totally devastated though they soon learn to accept it, even if somewhat begrudgingly. Gavin admits he is moving to Barry Island with Stacey to save his marriage. Smithy is also upset when he feels Dave is trying to replace him as the father of baby Neil. He is further rattled when Dave proposes to Nessa on Christmas Day and she accepts.
Series Three and the final installment (although I still keep my fingers crossed for a one-off reunion special at some point, which the writers have said they don't rule out): In the first episode Gavin begins his new job in Wales and Pam, Mick and Smithy travel to Wales for the christening of baby Neil. In the following episode, after a drunken night at Pam and Mick's, Nessa wakes up to find Smithy in her bed! As this season draws on, Gavin and Stacey try for a baby but it's soon revealed that there Gavin has a low sperm count. However, there's happy news for the couple in the final episode. And will Nessa go through with the wedding? I shall not say a word just in case you've yet to watch this series. I will say, though, it does end on a touching note and a fitting finale, bringing the series full circle and a natural conclusion.
The writing by James Corden and Ruth Jones is just superb, complemented by immensely likeable performances from the entire cast, The thing I love about Gavin And Stacey is that they even those bickering among the characters, at heart they all love each other, giving the whole series a refreshing, uplifting, feel-good air without resulting to schmaltz. There are also effective, poignant moments of drama, and though the characters are all highly amusing in their own way they are also very believable characters. The dialogue rolls along fast, crackling with razor-sharp wit and some expertly-timed one-liners.
Mathew Horne and Joanna Page are perfect in their roles as Gavin and Stacey, though you could argue this is the Smithy and Nessa show. James Corden is great in his character, conveying a touchingly sensitive, kind nature to his otherwise occasionally bold and brash demeanour. Arguably, the funniest crown goes to Ruth Jones as the often blunt, straight-talking and very dry Nessa. She delivers some of the show's best one-liners, all played with a straight-face and delivered in such a dead-pan style that just makes you laugh out loud.
Of great value, too, is the magnificent and ever-great Alison Steadman as Gavin's loving mother, Pam. Pam is unwittingly comical and is still just a girl at heart. While her heart is always in the right place, she doesn't always go about things in the right way and can often be inadvertently blunt and a little scathing, though no intentional maliciousness is ever intended. Larry Lamb provides the perfect balance as her husband Mick and he and Pam still clearly enjoy a vital, sexually-active marriage.
Rob Brydon as the slightly dim-witted and extremely eccentric Bryn, shines in his role, never over-playing his hand and keeping the right balance needed to make his character both believable and likeable. There are hints that he is a closet homosexual throughout the entire series, although this is never confirmed. Melanie Waters is lovely as Stacey's mom, Gwen, often seen beavering away in the kitchen whipping up an omlette for her frequent visitors, while the next-door neighbour, Doris (Margaret John), is an elderly but lively and vivacious character who, like Pam, is still just a young girl at heart (she even offers herself to Gavin at one point). She gets to deliver some incredibly funny one-liners!
Other notable characters that drop sporadically in and out of the series are Pam and Mick's best friends Dawn (Julia West) and Pete (Adrian Scarborough), a constantly bickering (often in public) married couple. They make an excellent addition to the cast and have some brilliant scenes, not least when they decide to renew their wedding vows.
All in all, this is pure comedy gold and if you've yet to see this series, this is a MUST! This Blu-Ray contains the full collection with a host of special features which includes audio commentary for each episode (on the second series disc it includes in-view commentary of the cast) and a documentary on the making of the series. Great value for money and enthralling fun for fans of this beloved series. This is a series I can return to time and time again and no matter how many times I've seen it, it never fails to make me howl with laughter and I'm sure I speak for all fans when I say that. Classic TV GOLD!