Ruth Jones on…new series Stella
Stella [is] the new comedy drama set in the working-class Welsh Valleys, which Jones has written and stars in. She plays Stella, a 40-ish (Jones is 45) twice-divorced mum of three: Luke, the eldest who’s in prison, 16-year-old Emma and Ben, 12.
The series was first envisaged by Sky1 as a British Roseanne, but Jones and her husband, Stella co-creator and business partner, David Peet, decided that format wouldn’t play to her strengths as a writer: “It was originally planned as six half-hours in front of a studio audience, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that because it’s more my style to write single-camera comedy drama – so now it’s expanded into ten one-hour episodes.
“There’s an overall arc to the series, which is seeded in the first episode and comes to some sort of fruition by the tenth. What we wanted to create as well was a journey that’s seasonal – it starts in the depths of winter, so you see the landscape changing and blossoming in the same way that Stella starts to get a bit more confidence and come out of herself.”
“I’m usually loud and gregarious. But I did want to strike a different note [as Stella], energetically – if that’s the right word – because I wanted her to be primarily a mum, just keeping things together day to day. That’s why she wears a lovely array of rugby shirts and it’s all very practical with her hair in a ponytail. The point was we wanted to create a character who was not all that bothered about how she looked.”
“My parents and my brothers and sisters are down the road and I think it’s a great city – it’s the right size, it’s easy to get about and I just love the Cardiff sense of humour and the people. Maybe it’s the familiarity, but I’m just very, very happy there.”
…on Gavin & Stacey
“I think it was just that people could recognise things in it and they related to it and it was about two fairly – well, I would like to say, straightforward families but they’re not really straightforward. Essentially, there’s lots of love in the two families and I think people just warmed to that, really.”
“I think the characters are big enough to work in a musical setting and James Corden and I both like a bit of a song.” Jones doesn’t think her voice is good enough for her to star in it, although “it would be hilarious. If there’s a way of doing a comedy song where you don’t actually have to sing, I might get away with it.”
“I’ve been asked to write a book about my life but I find that quite a bizarre idea. I’m not old enough, and if you were going to write anything interesting about your life, you’d have to implicate other people and I think that’s very tricky to do…”
“The celebrity aspect, and let’s be honest doing an interview is part of that, is a by-product of the work you do. So you have to promote the work and I appreciate that is part of my job, but do I have to bare all?
“I feel I put my world view into my characters – no, that’s not necessarily true. I put different world views that I find interesting into my characters. My scripts are where I put what I want to say. That’s what I make public and that’s what I think and hope people like… although it isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, either.”
This is an edited version of an article from the issue of Radio Times magazine that went on sale 23 December 2011.
Stella starts tonight at 9pm on Sky1