A rotund man who laughs at everything and just keeps giving gifts has saved Christmas. Yes, James Corden has united Britain in sitting on the sofa to watch The Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special. It was the biggest hit of the day and could go on to become the most watched show of the year.
Bringing a show back after 10 years is always fraught with problems. Will it still be funny? Will it still have the same dynamic? Will they all have aged hideously? (Answers: Yes, Yes, and amazingly no…although I have my suspicions over Rob Brydon’s hair).
Since the end of G&S the cast have had varying degree of success. Horne and Corden went and squandered the goodwill they had built up with the audience with a series of flops including their own sketch show, the film Lesbian Vampire Slayers and of course THAT year when they presented the Brits. (To be fair, presenting the Brits is always a nightmare as we discussed here.) Over time, both have recovered, and in fact Corden has gone global. After G&S, Corden’s co-writer Ruth Jones was snapped up by Sky to star in and write 6 series of Stella, Rob Brydon went off cruising the world and Joanna Page’s voice keeps popping up on various shows.
We re-joined the group as they planned to all go to Barry for Christmas. The main difference this time was the lack of the tolls on the Severn Bridge…oh and children. Gavin and Stacey have 3 and Nessa and Smithy have “Neil the Baby” who is actually 11. It’s a cliché to say it, but the show does have warmth and yet is frighteningly realistic. We have all stayed with friends and relatives whose towels are like sandpaper; we have all forgotten to buy something for Christmas and of course we all have our favourite/worst motorway services. NB: if they really wanted to try a decent services, they should take the M5 north at Bristol and call into Gloucester services. It would be an extra 60 miles to their journey but trust me it would be worth it. (Yes, I have just checked that on Google maps. How sad am I? Don’t answer that.)
The episode had some stand out moments, namely, Nessa and Bryn’s karaoke; Nessa and son Carol singing and Nessa giving everyone a tap as a Christmas present. Ok, basically any scene with Nessa in. The show left us with a cliff hanger, again courtesy of Nessa, and the audience begging for more.
One of the most unusual things about the episode, and possibly the reason why it was so loved, was that it never once mentioned Brexit. In TV terms, Christmas is all about nostalgia, hence we still get repeats of Morecambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies. When we last saw the gang back in 2010, we lived in much more harmonious times. Perhaps its secret was returning us back to those times. So to miss-quote Oliver, next year “Please Sir (and Ms)…can we have some more?”
The Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special can be viewed on BBC iPlayer