Let’s be honest, it was an absolutely crackin’ Christmas, don’t you think? It had nothing to do with presents, stockings, turkey or pud, but everything to do with a certain TV show we had waited for more than ten years to return.
The Gavin & Stacey special pulled in over 12 million viewers and was the most watched show over the festive period. It came with some concerns and fears of course. Would the characters be where we hoped they’s be after all this time. Would we ever find out what happened on that fateful fishing trip (almost) and, most importantly, would it really leave us wanting more?
The good news is, it delivered on every level and the final minute of the show was truly a take your breath away moment, leaving all of us not knowing whether to laugh, applaud or cry (I did all three by the way). As the episode ended, on what has to be the most iconic ‘WHAT!’ ever, we were left wondering whether or not Smithy said yes. More importantly though, will there be any more episodes so we can find out?
The answer to that is, we simply don’t know. What is clear though, is that our appetite for Gavin and Stacey is relentless, as was clearly seen by the amount of people making the pilgrimage to Barry to view the locations used in the show.
Without doubt it is one of the most successful television shows ever filmed in South Wales. What has been a real pleasure, fo those of us who know Barry so well, is that it showed what a close-knit, friendly community of people they are. As for the locations, they are now as famous as the show itself and attract thousands of visitors each year, and no doubt even more following the Christmas Special.
Most of the series, including many of the scenes that are meant to be in England, were actually filmed in and around Barry. Even the Shipman’s Essex home is really in South Wales.
So here is the SOUTH WALES LIFE guide to all that is Gavin, Stacey and the town of Barry, starting with the most famous house of all.
First things first however: Barry Island is no longer an Island and it is not owned by a bloke named Barry. People do ask, honestly.
GWEN’S HOUSE – TRINITY STREET
There is so much that is easily recognisable about the house owned by Gwen where Stacey, Nessa, Uncle Bryn and Doris (God rest her soul) would spend many a happy hour. As you walk up this steep hill of terraced houses, you can’t miss the one Stacey and her Mum lived in. Not only is it instantly recognisable from the show but the owners have photographs in the downstairs windows and a sign that says they welcome conversations with fans.
UNCLE BRYN’S HOUSE – OPPOSITE GWEN’S
As we are writing this we can’t help but remember what has gone on behind Uncle Bryn’s front door. That damn computer which slowly printed out a map to guide Gavin back home to Essex. The ‘Boys Club’ when they came to stay for the stag night and of course, the gym where he and Smithy, well shall we say ‘trained’ together. We have had a rumour that the family that lived there while the second series was filmed actually have a script from an unaired episode. By all accounts it reveals what happened on that dreaded fishing trip. I don’t know about you, but I actually don’t want to know.
We mustn’t forget the house lived in by Doris played brilliantly by Margaret John, who died in 2011. Although not much was made of it, Dor had left Gavin and Stacey her house in her will.
PAM AND MICK’S HOUSE – DINAS POWYS
We know that Stacey’s house is in Barry, that’s where she lives in the story. It’s a very different matter for Pam and Mick who’s home is in Essex, or is it? Well actually, no, it’s on Laburnum Way in Dinas Powys. In the show, they live over 200 miles away, in reality however, the house they used is less than 5 miles away from Stacey’s. The house is on a very quiet road in the village of Dinas Powys. When they began filming to Christmas Special there was no hiding from the locals who knew exactly what was going on.
Check out Marco’s Twitter page and you’ll see it is the official home of Gavin and Stacey and you know, it really is. So much has happened outside this bright blue coffee shop. It featured in the very first episode and by the time we got to series three, Stacey was working there. Come series three, Stacey had a job there. You can’t go to Barry and not at least have a cuppa there and over the years, so many of us have, including the then Prime Minister David Cameron.
THE SQUARE – BARRY ISLAND
This is where spot where Dave’s Coaches set off to take Stacey to London to meet Gavin for the first time. The loved-up pair said I love you to each other in this very spot and it appeared again in the Christmas Special as Stacey took Gavin on a trip down memory lane.
It really is called that, honestly. Just take a look at the sign outside. When you walk through the door of the Island Leisure Arcade, armed with a pocket full of change for the machines, you instantly the know this is the place where Nessa works. Her stamp and face, are all over the walls. On top of that, it’s a proper seaside Amusement Arcade. Once you’ve finished your chips you have to go in to play. This is also the place where Nessa and Bryn practiced their duet to the Frank and Nancy Sinatra song ‘Somethin Stupid’.
BOOFY’S CHIP SHOP – BARRY ISLAND
There ain’t no chippy like a Boofy’s Chippy. Just ask Gavin and Stacey, it’s there chippy of choice.
There really isn’t another way to call this. The wall, close to Nessa’s Slots and Boofy’s chippy is iconic in its own right. We have been in Barry on a busy day and watched people trying to sit on the stretch of wall where Gavin, Stacey, Smithy and Nessa finished up at the end of series three. Sit on it, eating your chips, on a lovely day and it is absolute heaven.
SMITHY’S QUIZ NIGHT LOCAL – THE COLCOT ARMS
In what was one of the best episodes of the first series, who can ever forget the Quiz Night with question master Neil Smith. The episode was actually set in Billericay, but was in fact filmed at the Colcot Arms in Barry. They do hold regular pub quizzes to this day and they are far less troublesome than when Smithy was in charge. Take a look at their FACEBOOK page to see what they’re up to.
THE WEDDING RECEPTION – THORNHILL
After Gavin and Stacey’s wedding, which was filmed in St Cattwg’s Church in Llanmaes, everyone heads to the wedding reception, despite Uncle Bryn’s dodgy sat-nav. The Manor Parc Country Hotel in Thornhill was used and it really is a beautiful setting. Most of the scenes were filmed in the Cedar room, while some of the outdoor spaces were used for the uncomfortable conversations between Nessa and Smithy and Bryn and Jason. It does look slightly different now as it’s been refurbished with a new porch, but it’s still recognisable.
King Square, Barry, outside of the Library and Town Hall – Nessa’s human statue took Gwen and Jason by surprise.
The Tadross Hotel, on Holton Road, Barry – this was used for the Christening party of Neil, the baby, in the third series.
The Glendale Hotel, Plymouth Road, Penarth – the Italian restaurant ‘Luigi’s’, which was the scene of the dramatic meal in series two when Nessa revealed she was pregnant – and the father was Smithy! We mustn’t forget the disastrous date night that Dawn and Pete had too.
All Saint’s Church Hall, Victoria Road, Penarth – the setting for Gwen’s Barn Dance ‘surprise’ birthday bash.
St Cattwg’s Church, Llanmaes – the venue for Gavin and Stacey’s wedding.
St Peter’s Church, Peterston-Super-Ely used as the venue for Nessa and Dave’s wedding that never was, and Neil, the baby’s, Christening Service.
The outside of Barry filming took place in Penarth
For behind the scenes info and clips, head to the BBC’s Gavin & Stacey web pages.