It was a crisp day in early November when the cast of Gavin & Stacey previewed their Christmas Special for select members of the press. Below is what happened when I met Matthew Horne and Jonna Page, better known to everyone as Gavin & Stacey.
Was it strange to be back in Barry and all back together after ten years away??
Joanna: I thought it would’ve been but was strange was the way we slotted in as if we’d seen each other the day before. The cast really is like a family and from the first day of rehearsals we just all slotted back into our roles.
Matthew: It’s the first time I’d been back to Barry I don’t know if you had?
Joanna: No, I hadn’t
Matthew: No. Filming in the summer for a Christmas show was a bit weird. We’d film till the early hours of the morning and when we filmed in the daylight Barry was really beautiful. We’d never really seen it like that before because we’d only ever filmed in the winter. The biggest difference this time was just the attention from the fans. We had to have security as they were literally hundreds and hundreds of people watching us wherever we went. They would stand there for hours and hours while we were filming. One thing that people perhaps don’t realise is that filming itself can be very boring so we made sure to go and sign stuff. You could feel the love people have for the show.
What were your first thoughts when you got the call from Ruth Jones that the show was returning?
Matthew: My first thought was a feeling of relief. I was glad James finally had a job! (laughs) but then the nerves kick in because you want to do your best for the script and the rest of the cast.
Joanna: I have a reputation of being bad at getting back to people. I’d seen Ruth had messaged me and called me and I didn’t get back to her at all. Then she WhatApp’d me and I thought it must be important. My first thought was that she had some bad news for me but when she told me we were coming back I was really really excited.
Were you nervous about returning to Gavin & Stacey?
Matthew: When I saw how the announcement had exploded I felt incredibly nervous about not being able to play the character again but also delivering the very very high expectations of the audience who love the show so much. What we all tried to do I think is not only meet those expectations but supersede them aswell.
Do people still think of you as Gavin & Stacey?
Joanna: Yes, I get called Stacey all the time.
Matthew: At some point in series 2 a man wanted me to sign something, but he didn’t want my name he just wanted me to write ‘Gavin’ in my handwriting! That was really good for the ego. It really brings you back down to earth.
When you got the call that the show was coming back did you feel you had to rewatch the show to remind yourselves how to play the characters?
Matthew: I don’t watch my stuff any more so I just relied on the script and Jo to remind me how to do it.
Joanna: I hadn’t seen any of it in about ten years. When I knew we were going to be doing it again I thought, oh my gosh I better watch some of it and I started with the first series. It’s really good!! I’d completely forgotten loads of stuff. I loved it.!
With the show being so widely available on streaming services are you finding your being recognised by a younger audience??
Joanna: Yes! I get a lot of little girls coming up to me and they all love Stacey.
Matthew: It’s repeated all the time and it’s such a family show. I family I know from where I’m from at home in Nottingham they have two girls of six and eight and they love the show. It’s ubiquitous and crosses the generations.
It’ll be such a treat for families this Christmas. We know Matt won’t watch it, but Jo, will you sit down and watch it with the family?
Matthew: Actually it depends how drunk I am by the time it’s on.
Joanna: If I’ve got all my children to sleep and they probably will have been eating lots of chocolate and sugar all through Christmas so I hope to god they’ll be in bed by the time it’s on.
Have your children ever seen any of the show?
Joanna: No, they’ve not seen any of it. They don’t really know what I do. My daughter has had little girls coming up to her saying ‘your mum is Stacey’. The only thing she knows is that Matt is Horrid Henry’s father and James is Peter Rabbit so I’m cool because of that!
How did you feel about having an audience of fans watching you film the scenes?
Matthew: The first day was terrifying. We were filming an important scene and people were shouting things out and getting really excited. We were both really really nervous
Joanna: Once we started those went and we able to film properly.
What do you think of the episode?
Matthew: I have to say, I think it’s the best episode we’ve ever done and that is a credit to Ruth and James. There was a danger that it could have been a best-of set-piece type show but it’s a beautifully crafted episode that delivers everything and more that you could want from the show. I can’t wait for people to see it.
Joanna: I really hope people enjoy it. It’ll be a real treat for Christmas Day.
Gavin & Stacey returns Christmas Day at 8.30pm on BBC One.