This will be a feature in which I countdown my top 10 TV shows of all time and talk about the reasons why they’re in the list and what I love about them. At 6 is Gavin and Stacey.
Gavin and Stacey is the warm-hearted hug that accompanies some of my favourite memories of TV watching, it’s the comfortable sofa, the knowing smile, the funniest and most heartwarming TV show ever put onto a screen, and it’s got a place in my heart next to Family and Christmas.
When I think, what’s my favourite British sitcom/show, I usually say Only Fools and Horses without thinking, in fact, the answer is Gavin and Stacey, oh, for so many reasons. I can’t remember when I got into it, or how I came across it, but I simply know that I fell in love with it.
It’s a show with a sunny disposition, an unflappable belief in love, both romantic and family, and you must be a pretty cold hearted cynic to dislike it. From the first episode, we are told that this is a love story, but happens to be about other things as well, from the opening titles we know that this isn’t aiming to be a comedy, it’s a drama about people, that happens to be very, very funny.
Two people from two different places fall in love and bring their strange but loveable families together, creating a scenario that most people can relate to, and in the process uncovering the foibles and humour that can only occur when different groups of people are brought together. It’s a simple concept for a TV show, and it works instantly. This is unlike any sitcom you will ever see, because it kind of isn’t one.
Like any good comedy show it expertly balances humour and pathos, wielding the power to make you crease up with laughter one moment, then bring you to tears the next. My favourite example is from S1E6, in which Gavin and Stacey get married, Smithy says one of my favourite ever lines “You’re like two peas in a bag”, which proceeds a scene in which Bryn reads Stacey a letter that her father wrote her, before his death, to be opened on her wedding day.
It’s a hilarious line followed by a scene that never, ever fails to bring me to tears as Rob Brydon and Joanna Page perfectly capture the scene in all its sincerity. Brydons voice catches at the perfect moment, and I kid you not, I’m welling up thinking about it. Damn.
Not only are Ruth Jones and James Corden brilliant as Nessa and Smithy respectively, but they are superb writers. The jokes are clever, subtle, slapstick and honest, whilst the drama they write often hits home, never feeling forced or over the top. From the very start they established what the show was and how it would play out, and through 3 excellent seasons and a stellar Christmas special, Gavin and Stacey remained one of the very best shows I’ve ever watched.
Credit where credit is due, other than Jones and Corden, one of TV’s greatest casts had been gathered, each of them bringing their own A game. From Steadmans loud, but caring mum, Lamb’s everyman straight guy to Brydon’s cheery and genial Uncle, the cast is an excellent mix of personalities, from broad to subtle, they flesh out the world of Gavin and Stacey, making it a joy to watch.
A lot of the roles are also so great because they are nothing like the real people, Ruth Jones, for example, who cannot be further from Nessa in real life, in appearance anyway, proves that these performers are the very best, and there is no doubt that these are the only people who could play their roles.
You feel that these people are real, that you know them, and that’s where the show succeeds the most, maybe it won’t work as well in other countries, but in the UK, it nails it.
I love the humour, it’s so everyday and banal, but it’s hilarious. Then, it’s incredibly silly, it has this wonderful balance, and I love it. I love the drama, the real heart wrenching sadness, the melancholy music, the fact that you can undercut it with humour and it doesn’t feel wrong-footed.
I love Gavin and Stacey, it’s the sort of programme you forget just how much you love it, till you watch it and you are sucked into its world. I’m a romantic, and an optimist, I love that there are grand sweeping gestures of love undercut by the complete opposite from Smithy and Nessa, who begin with great disregard of each other, but build a complex but ultimately sweet relationship over the course of 3 seasons.
Also, I want to mention the phenomenal Christmas special which is easily my favourite TV holiday special. It’s got that sort of everyday humanity that the show does so well, people talking about telly and chocolates, the competition over who got the best Celebration chocolate “I got the Galaxy caramel”. It captures what it’s like when you gather your family around in one place, and it’s wonderful to see every actor bouncing off each other.
Then it has the perfect ending, Smithy asking Nessa not to marry Dave, and the families singing my favourite Christmas song “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. It’s so perfect.
Because in the end, Gavin and Stacey is, and don’t get me wrong, to be honest, at the end of the day, when all said and done…you know what I mean.
It’s well Lush.
So please let me know what you thought of this. I’ve done some reworking on my list of favourite TV shows recently and I’ve still yet to complete my huge Lost appreciation post yet. I just had to add Gavin and Stacey in, so this is my brief explanation of why I love it, and it’ll go into the list after the adjusting.
Thanks for reading 🙂