Cardiff confidential: Saying farewell to Gavin & Stacey

'Gavin & Stacey' returns next week – but it will be for the last time, writes Gerard Gilbert

Just 24 months ago, the first series of Gavin & Stacey had finished airing on BBC3, attracting a respectable but hardly earth-shattering half a million viewers and a few approving reviews.

Telling of the love affair between Welsh girl Stacey (played by Joanna Page) and Essex boy Gavin (Mathew Horne), admirers enjoyed its good-natured culture-clash scenario, the tenderness towards its characters and the freshness of the actors (who also included the show's creators, Ruth Jones and James Corden, as the lovebirds' best friends, Nessa and Smithy).

Two years on, and Gavin & Stacey has won two Baftas and countless British Comedy Awards, seen its audience triple for the second series and, in 2008, mushroom even more exponentially for a BBC1 Christmas special. The third series begins next week and once again Jones's and Corden's creation is being given the honour of premiering on the BBC's most popular channel. We've seen our heroes fall in love, marry, co-exist with the in-laws and adapt to the culture gap between Billericay in Essex and Barry Island in South Wales. Where can it go from here? And can it retain its endearing joie de vivre?

The most obvious novelty is that, with Gavin starting his new job in Cardiff, the action has shifted to Wales, which means that Mathew Horne has to wear the homesick, fish-out-of-water expressions this time around. "We meet some new characters this time too," says James Corden. "But the core of the show is essentially the same." So what has held Gavin & Stacey in such widespread affection?

"It's amiable, unpretentious, well-scripted, nicely acted and archly amusing," wrote this newspaper, reviewing the still fledgling show. "It's a good series, taking its place in a well-worn comedic progression, stretching back to The Liver Birds." In fact, Gavin & Stacey seems so out of sync with the vogue for TV comedy about TV people – from Larry Sanders to Larry David, by way of 30 Rock and Extras – that it almost seems radical. Ordinary people living ordinary lives? Man, you should see this.

Not everybody was seduced, however, and once the awards started flooding in, they were swiftly pursued by an inevitable backlash. It's quite nice, but it shouldn't get above itself, was the general tone of the caveats. One broadsheet critic went further and called Gavin & Stacey "predictable, old-fashioned and wearing... it feels like a first draft, with no polish or aplomb to it. And now, to top it all, it's overrated too" – an attack that was squarely batted back by co-creator Ruth Jones. "It gets lots of criticism levelled at it for being too sweet," she said. "But I think that's why people are so fond of it, because it's not cynical or edgy. James and I really love the characters and we're so pleased that everybody else shares that."

But can Gavin & Stacey be entirely sweet and innocent when it calls its two leading families the Shipmans and the Wests – and a supporting character Peter Sutcliffe? This taste for mass murderers aside, Gavin's father, Michael Shipman, is played by Albert Square's Mr Evil, Larry Lamb (Archie Mitchell in EastEnders), while Gavin's doting mother is played by Alison Steadman. Along with Rob Brydon and (as Nessa's mother in the new series) Pam Ferris, there is someone for everyone.

Indeed, Gavin & Stacey has all the ingredients for it to become an audience-pleasing family sitcom in the tradition of Only Fools And Horses and The Royle Family – churning out series after series and Christmas special after Christmas special – everything, that is, except the willingness of its creators and writers to carry on. For the third series of Gavin & Stacey is also its last.

"There will never be another series of the show," confirms Corden. "I think Ruth and I are definite about that. As far as specials are concerned, I think if we had an idea for a story with these characters then maybe, but I don't think that'll happen any time soon."

"Where would we go with it?" asks Jones, and viewing the opening episode of the new series, it's hard to disagree with her. If I hadn't watched it in the knowledge that this sitcom's existence was finite, I might have feared that it was drifting into a comedy half-life of contrived plots and stagnant characterisation. "No, it's really time to say goodbye to these characters now," says Jones. "James and I will definitely write together again, though – we want to write a film." A Gavin & Stacey film? "No, because G&S very much belongs to the little screen, not the big one."

Just because saying goodbye to these characters is the right thing to do, it doesn't mean that it was easy. "In the final week me and Jo Page just couldn't stop crying," says Jones. "We were pathetic and we looked like frogs. And on the last day me and James were awash. It sounds silly, I know, but it's been a big part of our lives for the past three years... But, y'know, things have to move on."

For Jones and Corden, that means further script collaborations. Meanwhile, the end of the current series won't entirely spell the end because the show is to be remade for US television. NBC originally planned to make an adapted American version with Gavin coming from New Jersey and Stacey from South Carolina, but now ABC has bought the rights.

"It (the NBC script) wasn't great, to be honest," says Jones. "But now ABC is looking into writing a pilot and hopefully that will work out. I think we got £2,500 for signing over the rights. We'd only make loads of money if it runs for five series and became syndicated. The only thing that has managed that is The Office, so ... we're not millionaires yet."

Gavin & Stacey is on BBC1, Thursday at 9pm

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?

An enlightening finale for Don Draper

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Serious player: Aussie Guy Sebastian rehearses for the big show in Vienna

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable