After nearly 10 years off our screens, the Wests and the Shipmans are back on Christmas Day for a one-off reunion episode of the beloved sitcom.
With the new special nearing ever closer, more details are beginning to pour in about it, so here’s a full rundown of what to expect and the story of how it finally came to be...
It’s all off to Barry as Bryn hosts Christmas dinner
While the BBC is obviously keen to keep as many of the details about the special under wraps until it airs on Christmas Day, they have released an episode synopsis that gives a taste of what’s in store and what the characters have been up to for the last 10 years.
It reads: “This year we’re off to Wales for the festivities, where Bryn’s cooking dinner for over thirteen people. Understandably he’s tense. Pam would secretly prefer to spend Christmas in Essex as she finds Gwen’s house a bit lacking. But the deal has always been that they alternate every year, and this time it’s the turn of the Wests to host Christmas with everyone under one small roof.
“For Gavin and Stacey, parenthood continues to present them with several challenges, their ‘baby’ now being 10. Smithy, too, continues to commit to his fatherly role, making the journey to Barry at weekends and every second Wednesday to see twelve year old Neil the Baby. Nessa on the other hand adopts her own brand of Nessa-style mothering whilst Pam, Mick and Gwen have become the epitome of doting grandparents.
“On Christmas Eve, Dawn makes a shocking discovery about Pete that jeopardises their marriage (again) and a visit to the pub that night is an eye opener in more ways than one.”
There are also follow-ups to some classic moments in the original series.
A recently-released trailer revealed Gavin and Smithy will attempt to top their rendition of Do They Know It’s Christmas? from the 2008 festive special as they sing a version of Step Into Christmas, this time with a little help from Pam and Mick.
And with Ness and Bryn’s collaboration on Islands In The Stream becoming one of the most-remembered moments ever, the pair will be back on the mics as they do a spot of karaoke during the gang’s Christmas Eve celebrations.
The majority of the cast are back, but there’s a few notable absentees
While all of the main cast of Gavin & Stacey cast will be back for the reunion, it has been confirmed that Stacey’s brother Jason – played by Robert Wilfort – will also be returning alongside fellow supporting characters Pete and Dawn Sutcliffe (Adrian Scarborough and Julia Davis).
Sheridan Smith – who played Smithy’s sister Rudi in seven episodes of Gavin & Stacey – confirmed back in June that she would not be appearing, joking “I wish” when asked if her character would be back.
Similarly, Russell Tovey told The Sun in October that Gavin’s friends, including Budgie, Dirtbox and Fingers, had also not been included in the episode.
Meanwhile, although Margaret John, who played Stacey’s neighbour Doris, died a year after the last episode of Gavin & Stacey aired, James Corden has confirmed that the special will feature a nod to her brilliant character.
There’s no word on Dave Coaches yet, and while Nessa did jilt him at the altar in the series finale, it seems like she and Smithy are not together, so we’re intrigued as to whether the two would still be in each other’s lives. We did contact actor Steffan Rhodri’s reps to see whether he was returning, but they did not respond to our request for comment.
Although, it could have been a very different story
James recently revealed that the special very nearly got binned, telling Radio Times that he and Ruth got 40 pages in to writing the script before realising that what they had wasn’t up to scratch.
“We sat and we read it – and we both went, ‘This just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t feel like the show. It doesn’t feel like it’s right,’” he said, revealing they had to take some time out from the writing process in a bid to save the project.
Ruth added: “We did then identify what it was – there needed to be a heart to it, a big moment that resonated. I don’t want to give too much away.”
“We went round and round,” James said. “And it was probably about midnight – Ruth here with her laptop, me pacing around – and as soon as we had let it go, an idea arrived, maybe the quickest scene we’ve ever written, really. And as soon as that scene was finished, we had no choice. We said, ‘Well, now we have to make it’.”
Ruth and James didn’t tell anyone they were writing the script – even the cast
When they did decide they’d nailed the script, the first person to be told was Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s director of content, before they started contacting the rest of the cast to see if they would be up for it.
“I remember calling Mat Horne [who plays Gavin] and him just going, ‘Holy shit, man’,” he told Radio Times.
Recalling the phone call he received, Larry Lamb [who plays Mick], said on This Morning: “All of a sudden I get this phone call from a Los Angeles number. Then someone said ‘Hello, Larry, it’s James Corden’.
“It was quite extraordinary, the whole thing. It was quite Hollywood-esque getting this phone call from a Hollywood superstar over there in La La Land just to say we’re going to take a trip back down memory lane.”
Melanie Walters, who plays Gwen, had a hard time believing it was really James and completely blanked him.
“James texted me and the way he phrased the text was: ‘It’s James Corden here Mel, you may remember me’. I just thought I was being trolled. I just completely ignored it,” she said at the show’s press launch.
“Then he rang and it was a weird number, and so I completely ignored it again. It was around the fourth time, he actually left a voicemail, and I finally realised it was him.”
Ruth admitted she was “ashamed” of the way she’d used her nine-year-old niece to help keep the secret.
She told of a trip to Barry, to speak to the real-life owner of Gwen’s house to see if the show could use the property again, she took her nine-year-old niece along with her to use as a cover story in case she was spotted by fans.
She told PA: “When I’ve been back to Barry sometimes there are people who are taking photos of the outside of the house and, if they see me, they sometimes want to take photos. If they see me on my own, it might start suspicions going.
“So I took my nine-year-old niece, who called the show ‘Gayin and Stacey’, she doesn’t know anything about it – ‘Let’s show you where Auntie Ruth used to film a television programme’.
“So, I took her and had some photos taken outside so I could just say ‘I’m just showing my niece’.”
And even when the cast all knew, they were still confused at what they were allowed to say
Rob Brydon (aka Uncle Bryn) recalled a confusing encounter with co-star Alison Steadman at the Baftas just before they reunited for filming.
Revealing Alison had spoken in code, he recalled: “I’m a bit thick. I was walking to my seat, I saw Alison and said, ‘Hello, how are you doing, great to see you…’ And she said, ‘I’m nervous about G&S’.
“I thought ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’. I thought she was there nominated for a performance in a thing about Gilbert and Sullivan!
“I might have even said to her ‘but you were fantastic in it!’ Then Claire [Holland, his wife] and I went and sat down, and I suddenly went ‘Ooooh!’”
The critics are absolutely loving it
Last month, the episode was shown for the first time to journalists, who quickly began posting their thoughts on Twitter, with everyone agreeing we’re in for a real treat.
Early reviews have already referred to the episode as “phenomenal”, “a delight” and, of course, “utterly lush”, with one even claiming the special is the “best episode yet”.
And it seems more could be on the cards
Ruth has refused to rule out further episodes, but said there are no current plans.
“We will never again have the effect that we’ve had this time around, having said for 10 years that we’re not doing any more and then announcing something special,” she told Red magazine.
“I think it would be churlish of me to say there won’t be any more. The honest truth is there are no plans, but I don’t think I could ever say never.”
The Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special airs on Christmas Day at 8.30pm on BBC One.