A Prisoner Sent Me a Fan Letter Offering to Help Me Exercise! EXCLUSIVE GAVIN & STACEY STAR RUTH JONES
Byline: BY ALUN PALMER
IT's taken a long time for Ruth Jones to become an overnight success and get her first taste of red carpet fame.
The co-creator and star of surprise hit sitcom Gavin & Stacey is up for a Bafta tomorrow.
But in fact she's been around long enough on our TV screens, with parts in Fat Friends, Saxondale and Nighty Night, to earn her stripes.
Now the 41-year-old Welsh actress has legions of fans thanks to her role as Nessa, the feisty trucker in Barry, South Wales.
Ruth says: "It's a bit weird when you have people shouting your name.
"I feel self-conscious about these situations but once I am inside the awards on Sunday, hopefully it will be all right. It's nice to have some glamour in your life."
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mirror, Ruth also has a confession to make about her choice of dress for the glittering awards bash in London.
She says: "I'm a bit worried because I'm wearing the same blue dress I wore to the comedy awards. But as it wasn't televised, I'm hoping nobody will notice.
"Or maybe someone will and they'll go, 'Aaaahhh, that's really sad'.
"It's a blue satin dress a friend of mine had designed for me. I had it specially made so it has got to have two airings to get its money's worth, hasn't it?"
(Sorry, Ruth, we've tracked down a photo of you winning a British Comedy Award last year and we just had to print it - see right).
The gentle comedy about an Essex lad Gavin falling for a Welsh girl Stacey has been a big success for BBC3.
The second series, which ends tomorrow with Ruth's character Nessa giving birth to Smithy's baby, has seen ratings soar past the two million mark.
Ruth is slightly stunned by how things have changed.
She says: "People say it's my big break but I'm 41 and for the last 10 years it's been getting better and better."
The actress has worked solidly for the last decade but always in supporting roles, most famously as lesbian barmaid Myfanwy alongside Dafydd - Matt Lucas' "only gay in the village".
Now she is also set for primetime success as Tess's mum in the forthcoming period drama Tess of the D'Urbervilles from the makers of Cranford.
While Ruth is up for a Bafta for programme of the year, her cuddly co-writer and co-star James Corden, who plays Smithy, is up for best comedy performance. And she hopes they'll do the double.
She says: "I really want James to win because I think he's a comedy genius and he really deserves to win. We've had such a great response from people I would be over the moon if we won.
"It's been absolutely phenomenal.
After the first series not many people had seen it. Then when the second series came out, it went up to 1.3 million and was second highest comedy after Little Britain in the ratings.
"Then it seemed everyone had seen it - even black cabbies mentioned it!"
Ruth's long and varied career means she's always had her fair share of fan mail. She says: "I once got a letter from a guy who was in prison when I was in Fat Friends and my character was on an exercise regime.
"He said he would be happy to help me with some exercise routines when he was home on leave from his open prison!"
Now with her latest success, Ruth's seen her fan mail quota go through the roof. She says: "The amount of fan letters I get has gone up. And my sister told me that there's a Gavin & Stacey appreciation group on Facebook - it has 45,000 members!"
Born in Bridgend, Ruth was the youngest of four children and was brought up in Porthcawl in the 70s. …