Joanna Page is the co-star we all remember from Gavin & Stacey. And, at first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking she's still in character. Her conversation is punctuated by the same high-pitched giggle; words are shrouded in the same Swansea dialect. And she chatters like a machine-gun on everything from actors ("a bunch of arseholes"), to Ed Miliband ("a character from Sesame Street") and Jimmy Carr ("paying less tax than my dad").
James Corden may have stolen all the headlines recently, but 34-year-old Page is forging her own path. This winter she will join David Tennant in the film Nativity 2. Her next TV appearance will be alongside Sue Johnston of Royle Family fame, in Gates, a comedy on Sky about parents desperately negotiating the school run. And she's still basking in the praise for her performance in The Syndicate, the BBC drama about five Leeds supermarket workers who win the lottery. Corden might be beating his way into Tinseltown, but Page insists she'll "never" follow suit. She's too enamoured of the new cottage in Oxfordshire which she has bought with her actor husband James Thornton. "I'm really happy here," she says, in her Stacey demeanour. "I wake up and put my wellies on. We have a pair of ducks that've just appeared. I've got rabbits on the lawn. And there's nothing I love more than coming home."
Fittingly, Page has recently become the face of the PDSA veterinary charity. Her passion for animals makes it an obvious choice. But it's hard to ignore the growing catalogue of brands cashing in on her wholesome image. They include Superdrug and Mr Kipling. I wonder: could Barclay's Bob Diamond persuade her to add another string to her bow? She draws breath. "I could never do that," she says, insisting projects have to be "personal and meaningful". "This banking crisis is one ridiculous thing after another. You just think how much more shit can things get and what is the Government going to do? Will anyone get fired? Unlikely. I'll tell you what'll happen. There'll be a 15,000-page dossier with recommendations; and then nothing will happen."
And now that the lid is lifted, there are a couple of other points regarding Westminster. "I wish we'd stop fuelling a world of reactionary politics." Politicians, in general, "need to grow a pair of balls... I'm so over them." Oh, come on; what about the Opposition? "Oh my God. Ed Miliband looks like a character from Sesame Street. I just think he's terrible. When he says something, I just switch off."
When I mention James Corden's staggering success in the US, her outlook (and pitch) lift. "Isn't it brilliant?" she says. "Even when working with him you could tell that he had something special. He's a fantastic actor and we could all see how talented he was. When he got nominated for the Tony, I was really pleased; but when he won it was even more special." And it feels heartfelt; rather than steeped in the begrudging congratulations so prevalent in the air-kissing arts world. Then again she insists that neither she, nor her husband, are "typical actors", which in Page world, apparently involves "going to the Groucho" and "having sex with everybody". "I'd rather be at home watching TV with my husband and dog, to be honest."
And here's the thing; Page is honest. Stacey-like honest. And it is this wide-eyed wonder that is dangerously disarming. Earlier this year, David Cameron held a reception in No 10, where Page was a guest. Seemingly gripped by her allure, he was snapped practically bowing to her. And now we know what he said: "He told me that he really enjoyed Gavin & Stacey and wishes we were doing more of it. I recommended that he should watch Homeland. He said he hadn't seen it yet. He was watching Prisoners' Wives, apparently."
- More about:
- James Corden