Following the success of last year’s Christmas Special, the three original series of Gavin and Stacey which lasted from 2007 to 2009 are back on television to make us laugh, and to remind us how much times have changed in just over a decade.
The series began, of course, with Essex boy Gavin (Matthew Horne) meeting Wales girl Stacey (Joanna Page) for the first time in London after talking on the phone for six months.
It seems surprising that they have never seen each other face to face before – but remember this is a pre-webcam world in which they live – that’s why they bring their friends Smithy (James Corden) and Nessa ( Ruth Jones) for their support. What is more striking when the quartet meets in Leicester Square for the first time is that everyone around them seems to be having a cigarette. Was everyone really smoking at the time? And there are ashtrays everywhere – what happened to them?
When they go to the pub, there is none of that around an outside patio heater either – in 2007, you could smoke pretty much anywhere, indoors and out. outside, something that looks really unhealthy now (which, of course, it is).
There are many other strange moments that also date from the show, just like there are in other classic series like friends. Gavin and his friends are all on flip phones – remember that? – and he has one of those ridiculously large wireless headsets for the car that was very popular with real estate agents and traders in the city.
Sure, some of the pop culture credentials that will remind older viewers (Goldie Lookin Chain, anyone?) Can leave anyone under the age of 40 scratching their heads – gags on comedian Bernard Manning, the 1980s television personality Jimmie Krankie and former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott (with whom Nessa claims to have a relationship) is disseminated throughout the script alongside references to magazines from long-lost guys like FHM, Charge and zoo and pop groups like All Saints.
The most egregious reference of all, however, comes from the season three finale, when Nessa and Stacey claim to have had a relationship with a handsome actor named Kevin Spacey – yes, the same Kevin Spacey who was later repeatedly accused of sexual assault against a young man. Ouch.
It’s not as controversial as the use of this song “Fairytale Of New York” in the 2019 Christmas special – which drew hundreds of complaints when it aired on Christmas Day – but there are d other things that can cause newcomers to raise an eyebrow.
Like with friends, Gavin & Stacey is not diverse when it comes to casting – the only non-white characters to be seen more than once are a friend of Gav, the ex of Achace de Stacey and the poor guy that the bickering couple Dawn and Pete try to attract into a trio.
None of the characters are exactly politically correct either, Gav’s mom Pam (Alison Steadman), repeatedly referring to one of his friends as “Big Fat Sue” and Smithy making jokes about the weight of Nessa – something co-writer Jones acknowledged in an interview with The sun last year talking about revisiting the characters for the 2019 special.
“Characters in Gavin & Stacey are kind and big-hearted, I think. So I don’t think anyone will be intentionally hurtful. But, by the same token, they are not necessarily going to be completely politically correct or aware of political correctness, “she said.
And while Uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon) ‘s unspoken sexuality is sometimes used to laugh – be it his very long hugs with Gav, Gav Mick’s father (Larry Lamb) becomes uncomfortable when Bryn applies a sun lotion on Barry Island Beach, or the repeated ones, hints at everything that happened on a fishing trip with Jason, Stacey’s openly gay brother – it probably doesn’t feel as uncomfortable as to watch Chandler’s homophobia in Friends.
Instead, Bryn is just Bryn, that slightly awkward parent that everyone has in his family. And like the rest of Gavin and Stacey ‘s characters, from mom omelet Gwen to the most beautiful couple in the series (Gav’s parents, Pam and Mick, with their role playing Charles and Camilla, of course), he has a heart of gold – something that not date at all.
Gavin & Stacey is on BBC1 on Saturday April 4 at 8:15 p.m.
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