Of all the shows on this year’s festive tv schedule, Gavin & Stacey is arguably the most hotly anticipated.
The hour-long special brings one of the BBC’s most beloved sitcoms back to television after a 10 year absence, with early trailers and buzz suggesting it very much lives up to the hype.
With the big day now just around the corner, it’s time to get reacquainted with the returning cast and meet a couple of noteworthy new additions…
Mathew Horne plays Gavin Shipman
Who is Gavin Shipman? At the start of the series, Gavin is a laddish young man from Billericay, Essex, who gets to know a Welsh woman named Stacey over the phone at work.
After months of talking, they finally set a date to meet which marks the beginning of a whirlwind romance. The pair get married soon after, with Gavin moving up to her hometown of Barry to make the relationship work.
Despite some initial fertility problems, when we last saw Gavin he was about to become a father to his first child with Stacey.
What else has Mathew Horne been in? In the aftermath of Gavin & Stacey’s roaring success, he and James Corden collaborated on the sketch show Horne & Corden, as well as the feature film Lesbian Vampire Killers, neither of which were well received.
Horne has since appeared in a number of British comedies including Jack Whitehall’s Bad Education, Comedy Central’s Drunk History and as the grandson to Catherine Tate’s foul mouthed Nan, a role he will reprise in a film adaptation next year.
Joanna Page plays Stacey Shipman
Who is Stacey Shipman? Stacey has firm roots in the town of Barry in South Wales, where she grew up under the care of her mother and her uncle after her father passed away.
She briefly moves to Billericay after marrying Gavin but never feels at home there, which almost causes their relationship to fall apart completely.
Fortunately, things get back on track when the couple relocate to Barry where Stacey works at a refreshment kiosk on the seafront.
What else has Joanna Page been in? Prior to landing the role of Stacey Shipman, Page was known to audiences from the festive rom-com Love Actually.
Since Gavin & Stacey finished, she has lent her voice to two children’s animated series, Poppy Cat and Q Pootle 5, as well as taking a starring role in the first series of Kay Mellor drama The Syndicate and playing Elizabeth I in Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special.
Ruth Jones plays Vanessa “Nessa” Jenkins
Who is Vanessa “Nessa” Jenkins? Nessa is Stacey’s closest friend and a woman who has lived an unusual yet very interesting life.
Throughout the course of the series, she makes reference to directing hundreds of Bollywood films with actor Om Puri, working at the BBC alongside legendary journalist Kate Adie and having a relationship with former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
She and Smithy have a complicated relationship, claiming to repulse each other yet sleeping together multiple times. They end up having a baby called Neil, who they co-parent as friends.
What else has Ruth Jones been in? Jones’ breakout role came on Kay Mellor’s drama Fat Friends, before later appearances in the BBC comedies Little Britain and Saxondale.
Since Gavin & Stacey ended, Jones has written and starred in the Sky One comedy-drama Stella, which ran for six series to a positive critical reception.
James Corden plays Neil “Smithy” Smith
Who is Neil “Smithy” Smith? Smithy is Gavin’s best friend, a tradesman from Billericay known for being a loud and extravagant personality at any social event.
When Gavin and Stacey arrange their first proper meeting, he goes along too and is introduced to Nessa. While they aren’t particularly affectionate towards each other, Smithy and Nessa do form an emotional connection, ultimately having a baby together.
In the last episode of Gavin & Stacey, Smithy interrupts Nessa’s wedding ceremony, effectively ending her relationship with bus driver Dave Coaches, but his exact feelings for her remain somewhat unclear.
What else has James Corden been in? Prior to Gavin & Stacey, Corden made a name for himself on Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends (alongside Jones), as well as the film adaptation of stage play The History Boys.
Since the series ended, Corden has become a genuine Hollywood star, hosting The Late Late Show on US broadcaster CBS and its successful spin-off series Carpool Karaoke.
Alongside his hosting work, Corden has lent his voice to several animated films including The Emoji Movie, Trolls and Peter Rabbit. He also has a role in the upcoming Cats movie, which has been a gold mine for internet memes thus far.
Larry Lamb plays Michael “Mick” Shipman
Who is Michael “Mick” Shipman? Mick is Gavin’s dad who is always happy to offer support to his son both emotionally and financially. His calm, level-headed persona is quite the opposite to that of his wife, Pam.
What else has Larry Lamb been in? Lamb appeared in a wide variety of British television programmes throughout the 1980s and 90s, including The New Avengers, The Professionals, A Touch of Frost and The Bill.
During his time on Gavin & Stacey, he took on the role of Archie Mitchell on Eastenders, who became a major player in Albert Square until he was killed off on Christmas Day 2009.
More recently, he has been seen on BBC One’s New Tricks and ITV’s reality competition I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, placing seventh in the series overall.
Alison Steadman plays Pam Shipman
Who is Pam Shipman? Pam is Gavin’s mother who absolutely adores her so-called “little prince.” She’s a caring person but fiercely protective of her son and prone to angry outbursts, which Stacey’s family have been on the receiving end of on more than one occasion.
What else has Alison Steadman been in? Steadman had a long-running career before joining the Gavin & Stacey family, with two BAFTA nominations to her name for 1986’s The Singing Detective and Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends in 2001.
She reunited with Mellor in 2013 for the second series of The Syndicate, landing other starring roles in the comedy series Love & Marriage, Boomers and Hold The Sunset opposite the legendary John Cleese.
Rob Brydon plays Bryn West
Who is Bryn West? Bryn is Stacey’s uncle who played a big part in her upbringing after her father’s death. He is loyal and protective but has lived a very sheltered life, causing him to frequently be panicked or excited by the simplest of things.
He has a difficult relationship with Stacey’s brother, Jason, due to an unrevealed incident that happened between them on a fishing trip.
What else has Rob Brydon been in? Brydon started his career as a disc jockey, but moved into writing and acting in the BBC comedy Marion and Geoff as well as Human Remains with Julia Davis.
Since Gavin & Stacey wrapped up, Rob Brydon has been hosting BBC One’s comedy panel show Would I Lie To You and has also starred in several instalments of The Trip alongside Steve Coogan.
Robert Wilfort plays Jason West
Who is Jason West? Jason is Stacey’s brother who lives in Spain most of the time but visits his family on special occasions. He and Bryn have a tense relationship due to the mysterious events of a fishing trip that took place many years ago.
What else has Robert Wilfort been in? Wilfort has made appearances in several notable productions including Tudor drama Wolf Hall and literary fantasy Dickensian, while also providing the voice of Samson on the children’s favourite Thomas and Friends.
Melanie Walters plays Gwen West
Who is Gwen West? Gwen is Stacey’s thoughtful mother who is always on hand to offer advice, babysit or cook an omelette.
What else has Melanie Walters been in? Walters has made a handful of small appearances on television since the finale of Gavin & Stacey, including reunions with Ruth Jones on Stella and Larry Lamb on Pitching In.
Adrian Scarborough and Julia Davis play Pete and Dawn Sutcliffe
Who are Pete and Dawn Sutcliffe? Pete and Dawn are a married couple who are good friends of Pam and Mick, and hilariously at each other’s throats most of the time.
Pam insists that they do love each other, but their occasional moments of affection are definitely outweighed by the snide remarks they regularly hurl at each other.
What else have Adrian Scarborough and Julia Davis been in?
Scarborough has cropped up in a number of different places, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge comedy series Crashing and Killing Eve, as well as period dramas Upstairs, Downstairs, The King’s Speech and the upcoming awards contender 1917.
Davis’ career took off with the comedy series Human Remains, which she co-wrote and starred in alongside Rob Brydon. She has created several other acclaimed shows since Gavin & Stacey ended, including Hunderby, Camping and Sally4Ever, all of which aired on Sky Atlantic.
Laura Aikman plays Sonia
Laura Aikman as Charlotte in Liar
What else has Laura Aikman been in?
Anyone who grew up in the early Noughties will recognise Laura Aikman from having the title role on The Mysti Show, where she played a fairy who sometimes interviewed celebrities – what a concept!
She went on to have roles on Ade Edmondson’s Teenage Kicks, ITV’s Demons, Citizen Khan and The Job Lot, as well as snagging a regular role on the final series of Waterloo Road.
Youssef Kerkour plays Emlyn
Youseff Kerkour Channel 4
What else has Youssef Kerkour been in?
Following a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Kerkour has made appearances in Anna Friel drama Marcella, Jack Whitehall comedy Bounty Hunters and George R.R. Martin’s sci-fi series Nightflyers.
This year has been particularly busy for him, taking the roles of Sami on Channel 4’s Home, Jay on Netflix’s Criminal: UK, as well as playing Olgaren on Steven Moffatt’s upcoming Dracula series.
Gavin & Stacey returns on Christmas Day on BBC One.