As promised I’m back with a look at the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special from 2008. True to the experience of many, this holiday tale is fraught with familial secrets, disagreements and just plain too much togetherness. It all begins when Stacey’s family and friends from Wales make the trip eastward to Essex in order to spend Christmas with Gavin’s parents and assorted others.
The Yuletide spirit is high and everyone is quite congenial upon arrival. That is until Gavin (Mathew Horne) announces that he has been promoted at work which will mean (at least temporarily) a move from Billericay to Cardiff. While the Wests and company are obviously quite chuffed about the news, Gavin’s mum Pam(Alison Steadman) is distraught at the thought of her only child leaving her and immediately lashes out at her daughter-in-law.
The situation quickly escalates with each side closing ranks. Name calling and insults ensue and, in one unexpected altercation, a punch is thrown by the Shipman’s friend, Pete (Adrian Scarborough). Never fear! Before the sun rises on Boxing Day, hard feelings are smoothed over and the gang is singing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ along to Mick’s (Larry Lamb) keyboard accompaniment.
Alas peace on earth, goodwill to men can’t solve everyone’s woes, particularly for Smithy (James Corden). On the heels of learning that his best friend is moving way, Dave Coaches’ (Steffan Rhodri) makes a very public proposal to Nessa (Ruth Jones). Despite his ambivalent relationship with Nessa, Smithy asks her to reconsider marrying the man he believes will take his place in his son’s life.
Other highlights of this episode include:
Santa Nessa with her dyslexic St. Nick laugh, scamming parents out of two quid and exposing the children to second hand smoke.
Smithy and Gavin singing a duet of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ via mobile phone. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a good quality clip so you’ll have to settle for a behind-the-scenes look at how they filmed the song instead.
Nessa and Dave giving everyone exactly one piece of fun-size candy from a Mars Celebrations chocolate variety tub and waiting to see the reaction of each person to their gift. Stacey’s mum, Gwen (Melanie Walters) got the universally disappointing Bounty which I found amusing since I really like coconut. Apparently coconut is something people either love or deem totally disgusting.
Uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon) and Gwen inviting neighbor Doris (Margaret John) to join them in a Christmas drink and her entertaining, if not a bit incongruous, excuse for forgoing the celebratory tipple.
And finally, the lively conversation about the EastEnders special with everyone sharing opinions about characters who died (or should have),implausible plot lines and someone named Frank Butcher who had a fixation on Pat someone. I found this bit particularly good because it highlights the shared television experience as a widespread UK holiday tradition.
Mostly this special makes me feel that these are people I wouldn’t mind spending my Christmas with. I reckon Mick is the best Christmas host ever seeing as he obsesses over the meal, defuses family squabbles with ease and is generally a laid back kind of bloke. Feel free to chime in with your favorite characters and moments from the episode.
Next time we’ll be dropping in on Alan Partridge’s Christmas special where everything that can go wrong will definitely turn out worse than you can possibly imagine. Until then, AH-HA!