Oh my Christ! ITV’s former head of comedy has revealed that the broadcaster turned down Gavin & Stacey as they felt the Welsh setting made it too niche.
Creators Ruth Jones and James Corden took their pitch for the show first to ITV, where they had a pre-existing relationship through their work on the Kay Mellor drama Fat Friends.
Sioned Wiliam, then-controller of comedy at ITV, loved the idea but was prevented from commissioning the series by her bosses.
Speaking on an upcoming BBC documentary series, she said: “I thought it was fantastic and tried to get it made by ITV, but was told that probably it wouldn’t be broadly accessible enough, because it was Welsh.”
Of course, Gavin & Stacey would go on to find a home on BBC Three, debuting in May 2007 to critical acclaim. The show was bumped up to a primetime slot on BBC One for its third series in 2009, with over 10 million people tuning in to watch the finale.
Gavin & Stacey followed the two characters as they fell in love over a series of long distance phone conversations between Wales and Essex before meeting and eventually tying the knot.
William’s new series, Funny Nation, explores Welsh comedy and features an interview with Gavin & Stacey co-creator Ruth Jones, who explains she felt nervous about setting her follow-up series Stella in Wales as well.
“Originally I did think of setting [Stella] in Bristol. Purely because I thought I can’t do something in Wales again. You know, people will be going, ‘Oh well she can only write Welsh stuff,'” she said.
“But isn’t it weird you think like that, because if you look at somebody like Sally Wainwright, all her stuff pretty much is set in Yorkshire, Halifax, the Dales. Kay Mellor, all her stuff pretty much is set in Leeds.
“But for some reason we think you can only have so much Welsh on the telly. I do think that is bonkers when you think about all the dramas that are set in Manchester [and] obviously London.”
Funny Nation will air on BBC One Wales on 9th December, before being available to stream across the UK on BBC iPlayer.
Meanwhile, Gavin & Stacey is returning to screens on Christmas Day for a much-anticipated festive special that reunites the original cast.