Five years ago Little Britain debuted on the then newly-founded BBC3 and soon attracted a large cult following with its original brand of humour based on modern Britain. Unfortunately as mainstream success followed, Lucas and Walliams’ cutting edge comedy soon lost most of its unique charm and morphed into a woeful, lowest common denominator, catchphrase-based comedy.
So it was with an understandable sense of trepidation then that Gavin and Stacey returned to – the now revamped, more youthful – BBC3 last night. The first series drew almost universal acclaim from its peers and the critics with its understated take on a blossoming modern day romance. But following weeks of promotional hype, endless trailers and press interviews from the cast, it wouldn’t be surprising if the unique charm of this comedy had been lost.
The early signs weren’t great with Stacey (Joanna Page) sporting a glamorous new haircut and noticeably better filmed and lit scenes. The worry soon turned out to be unwarranted though. This second series started exactly where the first left off, with superb writing from Ruth Jones and James Corden, matched by equally excellent performances the entire cast.
Corden himself has admitted that writing this series was easier, with less pressure to get things right, and it really showed. With less focus on the storyline, individual characters have been allowed to come into their own, particularly Rob Brydon’s quirky Welsh bachelor Uncle Bryn and fiery Nessa played by Jones herself. The jokes are always played down, but remain laugh out loud funny, and the storylines interesting without being obtrusive.
Sitting somewhere perfectly in its own genre somewhere between a sitcom and a romantic drama, Gavin and Stacey ticks every box – and long may it continue to do so.