Festive Throwback

It only takes the familiar opening credit song to remind you of how much you’ve missed Gavin and Stacey, with Smithy’s obsession of putting Italian suffixes onto the end of every word, Gavin’s tragic done-up-top-button-without-a-tie look, Pam’s constant state of panic and Bryn, Jason and Dave’s adorable awkwardness surrounding the ambiguous ‘fishing trip’.

It is the clash of characters that makes this show so entertaining, and yet the subtle nature of its writing keeps it a classy and intellectual kind of humour. Alison Steadman’s performance of the hysterical mother wanting everything to be perfect is so unbelievably relatable, and is complimented beautifully by Larry Lamb’s constant coolness in the face of adversity, as well as his patience whilst having “Oh my Christ!” repeatedly shouted at him. Rob Brydon plays pretty much the only character he’s ever been able to play in a comedy, but he does it with a delivery so uncanny, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that he’s the same guy from the Crunchy Nut ads and Would I Lie to You? As much as we love the main characters, poor old Matthew Horne and Joanna Page pulled the short straw by having to play Gavin and Stacey- the two most boring characters in the show, who have to spend an hour giggling about how in love they are and smooching grossly. Sorry. But of course, there’s James Corden and Ruth Jones- the real stars of the show, both behind and in front of the camera, who are so unselfish with the writing, and so exquisite with the delivery of their own lines. They can have you crying with laughter during Nessa’s very Welsh act as Santa, and crying with despair as Smithy begs her not to marry dodgey Dave.

“James Corden and Ruth Jones are so unselfish with the writing, and so exquisite in the delivery of their own lines”

is the clash of characters that makes this show so entertaining, and yet the subtle nature of its writing keeps it a classy and intellectual kind of humour. Alison Steadman’s performance of the hysterical mother wanting everything to be perfect is so unbelievably relatable, and is complimented beautifully by Larry Lamb’s constant coolness in the face of adversity, as well as his patience whilst having “Oh my Christ!” repeatedly shouted at him. Rob Brydon plays pretty much the only character he’s ever been able to play in a comedy, but he does it with a delivery so uncanny, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that he’s the same guy from the Crunchy Nut ads and Would I Lie to You? As much as we love the main characters, poor old Matthew Horne and Joanna Page pulled the short straw by having to play Gavin and Stacey- the two most boring characters in the show, who have to spend an hour giggling about how in love they are and smooching grossly. Sorry. But of course, there’s James Corden and Ruth Jones- the real stars of the show, both behind and in front of the camera, who are so unselfish with the writing, and so exquisite with the delivery of their own lines. They can have you crying with laughter during Nessa’s very Welsh act as Santa, and crying with despair as Smithy begs her not to marry dodgey Dave.

One of the best things about the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special is that you don’t need to be a religious watcher of the show in order to enjoy it- just a vague idea of the background of the characters and you’re sorted. And even if you hate the show, hate the characters, hate everything about it, you can’t deny the fact that it is overflowing with some absolute Christmas bangers. I’m talking Chris Rea, Brenda Lee, Band Aid, the whole shebang. In fact, I don’t think it’s actually possible for any normal human being to hear the cavernous, echoing drums of Do They Know It’s Christmas without bawling their heart out to it like Smithy does down the phone to Gavilar.

More than anything, this Christmas special teaches us so much. Not only does it teach us the redundancy of wrapping paper following Smithy’s revelation that with tin foil you can just “scrunch and go”,  or how not to mime the keyboard (Larry, I’m talking to you). No, Ruth Jones and James Corden seem to have realised what the writers of Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Eastenders just can’t seem to grasp; the normality of it all makes it so heart-warming. It includes all the standard features of a family Christmas- the constant state of intoxication, the inevitable huge family argument, the endless consumption of unnecessary food- and yet underneath it all, runs the themes of marriage and friendship, growing old and moving forward, all accompanied with a glass of mint Bailey’s and aching cheeks.

One of the best things about the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special is that you don’t need to be a religious watcher of the show in order to enjoy it- just a vague idea of the background of the characters and you’re sorted. And even if you hate the show, hate the characters, hate everything about it, you can’t deny the fact that it is overflowing with some absolute Christmas bangers. I’m talking Chris Rea, Brenda Lee, Band Aid, the whole shebang. In fact, I don’t think it’s actually possible for any normal human being to hear the cavernous, echoing drums of Do They Know It’s Christmas without bawling their heart out to it like Smithy does down the phone to Gavilar.

More than anything, this Christmas special teaches us so much. Not only does it teach us the redundancy of wrapping paper following Smithy’s revelation that with tin foil you can just “scrunch and go”,  or how not to mime the keyboard (Larry, I’m talking to you). No, Ruth Jones and James Corden seem to have realised what the writers of Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Eastenders just can’t seem to grasp; the normality of it all makes it so heart-warming. It includes all the standard features of a family Christmas- the constant state of intoxication, the inevitable huge family argument, the endless consumption of unnecessary food- and yet underneath it all, runs the themes of marriage and friendship, growing old and moving forward, all accompanied with a glass of mint Bailey’s and aching cheeks.

Ally Wilson

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