Last week I was lucky enough to speak to actress and Gavin & Stacey writer Ruth Jones. The series which premiered on BBC3 last year has become a favourite of mine. The series scooped Ruth and writing partner James Corden the best comedy newcomer and best new TV comedy prizes at the 2007 British Comedy Awards. Ruth might be known now for her role as Nessa but she’s had a long TV career from ITV1’s Fat Friends to playing lesbian barmaid Mafanway in a little-known BBC3 series called Little Britain. And with Gavin & Stacey returning for a seven-part second series on Sunday, it was scoop I wanted
.Q – How Have things changed for you and James since the success of the first series and what’s the best thing the success has bought you?
Nothing essential has changed – we’ve become a lot busier with work that’s for sure and it’s all very exciting, but we haven’t bought a holiday home in Florida or anything!
Q – Has the success surprised you?
We’ve been delighted by how popular the show has become – and particularly the universality of its appeal. All ages seem to like it – it’s a real one-size-fits-all kind of a show I think.
Q – Congratulations on your British Comedy awards. Can you give us an exclusive on where you keep the awards? Are they hidden in an underground lair somewhere?
The production company, Baby Cow, keeps the best new comedy award and James and I have got our newcomer awards, Mine’s well displayed, don’t you worry, I make sure people pass it when they come through the door – “What – that? Oh that’s just my best female newcomer award.”
Q – What are the benefits of airing on BBC3 then moving to BBC2?
Primarily, being on BBC3 means of course that it gets more airings so more people get a chance to see it if they miss the original broadcast. But more people actually watch BBC2 because it’s terrestrial so it’s swings and roundabouts. We feel very grateful to BBC3 – they were fully behind it from the start. They did a great job with the publicity – did you see our trendy trail first time round? And then BBC2 have shown it twice which is brilliant! Last Saturday, they did a whole Gavin & Stacey night and showed the whole series back to back. We’ve had so much support from both channels – we’ve been really lucky.
Q – Was this series easier to write as you knew the cast and their characters or did you find it harder to follow it up knowing how well the first series was received?
The second series was sometimes harder to write – mainly because we were under more pressure timewise. We started writing last April and had to get it finished to film in October. Also when we were writing the first series, would be going out and often we’d get these positive reviews the next day which made us think ‘oh my God, can we do it a second time?’ Having such a great cast of actors really helped us though with writing for the characters that they had essentially brought to life.
Q – At the end of the last series, we knew Nessa was pregnant with Smithy’s child. Nessa approached Smithy at the wedding but couldn’t bring herself to tell him. Does the second series continue where we left off and do Smithy and Nessa have any feelings for each other?
Smithy and Nessa aren’t ever going to have feelings for each other – they just happen to have had some good sex together but that’s as far as it goes. And of course now they’re left with the prospect of possibly being parents to the same child – if Nessa chooses to have the baby that is!. Basically the story picks up after the honeymoon.
Q – The show is called Gavin & Stacey but it is as much about their friends and family. Is everyone from series one back?
Yes – everyone’s back including Pete (Adrian Scarborough) and Dawn (Julia Davis) who are such brilliant characters. We’re also really lucky to have Sheridan Smith in a couple of episodes playing Smithy’s sister. She’s fabulous.
Q – Can we expect any guest appearances in the new series?
As well as Sheridan, we’ve also got the lovely and brilliant Marc Wootton in one of the episodes. James and I are big fans of Mark’s. He’s such a talented performer.
Q – Which member of the cast most resembles their character in real life?
I think we’ve all got bits of ourselves in all our characters!
Q – Will we ever find out what happened on that fishing trip?
Mmmm… well…. maybe….!
Q – What was the most fun scene to shoot in series one?
Gosh there were lots – the hen night was fun and also the scene where Stacey and Nessa are bleaching their moustaches. We literally couldn’t do that because we were laughing so much. Jo said i looked like Deputy Dawg! in terms of scenes I wasn’t in – I loved watching the extra stag night with Bryn, Gav, Smithy and Achmed. That was great!
Q – Personally I’d happy to watch Gavin & Stacey and Co grow old but how long do you envisage the series going on for?
We might do a special later in the year but there are no plans to do any more series… we’ve no idea how this series will go down for starters. People might hate it! It would be a shame if people got fed up of it… I don’t know… we’ll see. A special is likely though.
Q- What are your expectations of this second series?
it’s always best never to have expectations in life – then you can’t be disappointed.
Q – What else are you working on at the moment? Any Saxondale in the pipeline?
I’m writing a BBC1 drama and I’m about to play Tess’s mother in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I’m really excited about that! I love Thomas Hardy and I’m really keen to do more drama. Also James and I are working on a 90-minute film for TV. I’d love to do more Saxondale – but Steve Coogan is working so hard in Hollywood now – I can’t see when he’d get the time to do it!
Q – What TV are you enjoying at the moment? And what can’t you stand?
I’ve only just watched Bleak House – got the DVD set – it was gripping, but I’m a bit behind the times. i really enjoyed Rob Brydon’s Identity Crisis on BBC4 and I’m looking forward to Mad Men on BBC4, The real turn offs for me are the skating stuff and dancing and all that… it’s just not my cup of tea! Maybe because I can’t!
Q – Any behind-the-camera gossip you’d like to pass on?
Never gossip, never gossip! Cos I’d hate to be gossiped about!!
• The first series of Gavin & Stacey is available on DVD here