Friends Reunited; Ruth Jones and James Corden Are Responsible for One of This Country's Most Successful Comedies. but How Much Effort Goes into Writing Gavin & Stacey? and Who's in Charge of the Typing? Hannah Jones Is Granted an Audience with the Dynamic Duo
THE third series of Gavin & Stacey nearly didn't happen. Not because of some alternative grand plan, the unavailability of its stars and writers, or the fact the nation seemed to get it into its collective consciousness that last year's Christmas special was the last ever episode.
It nearly didn't make it because Ruth Jones got new sofas. "Can you believe it?" asks James Corden, her co-writer who plays Smithy in the Barry-based series.
"We can't do a minute of our little show apart. Most of series one was done in this room," he says, opening one eye and surveying Ruth's front room in her lovely Cardiff semi.
"No it wasn't," argues his friend, looking down on a tired James whose head is resting on her right arm, feet tucked up and under him on the controversial new gold sofa they're now sharing.
"Yes it was," he counters, playfully argumentative. "Most of this series was done in this room, and the second series. You may be right saying series one wasn't.
"How it works is like this," James continues. "Ruth would want to start writing about 9.30am but we'd end up doing it later, about 10.30am, because of me, and eating breakfast and stuff and talking.
"There was a desk over there," nodding to a now empty space, "and we'd plan an episode or try to until it was lunch time.
"But, man, that settee. It was lovely; cream it was." Ruth: "It's upstairs now."
James: "What good is it up there? I loved that sofa. It was so comfortable. There have been times in my life where this house has been like a rehabilitation centre for me.
"One time, when I came round, Ruth put me on that cream sofa and put me to bed at 7pm..."
Ruth: "...with a glass of squash...." James: ".... and put a nice blanket over me. I was out like a light. I don't have the same temptations (in Cardiff). Then I walk in one day and, and, and, and.... it's gone! I was actually panicked."
Ruth: "He wouldn't sit on the new one. It was like his mojo had gone."
James: "I'm okay now though. If anything, it's super comfy."
Ruth: "So he sits on the sofa, I'm in charge of the laptop. He's tried to do it but he can't be trusted."
And with that, they start laughing, Ruth allowing her much younger partner in comedy - he's 31, she's 43 - to cuddle back in to her again, like a surrogate mother who fully indulges his prodigious talent, and inability to stay fully focused. Ruth suffers with it too and reminds James that she's also prone to procrastination.
"We went to a hotel in London to do this one (series three) and it was pounds 4 for a boiled egg. pounds 4!" she says incredulously.
"So we decided to go to Selfridges for some eggs. We didn't have a pan so we tried to boil it in an ice bucket. Worked though. Another day we just ate ourselves stupid with Easter eggs and slept all afternoon. We fell asleep from the sugar rush but when we woke up we wrote eight pages, didn't we?" "Yes," says James, recalling that they were "on a roll" that day.
"But we're not strict about it. You lock yourself away and you just get cabin fever.
"But ideas are always around. You get things happening around you which can inspire you. So we text each other with ideas."
It's the difference between the two which they have fully embraced to become one of the most formidable and realistic writing partnerships this country has produced.
Where James is an unmarried young man about town - he's tired during our interview because the night before he was up late watching his "good mate" Robbie Williams in concert - Ruth's a married mother and has three grown-up step children, and her idea of a good time is rather more sedate.
For the record, Ruth is nothing like her Gavin & Stacey creation Nessa. She's measured, clever, astute, guarded and emotional; James is feisty, loud, brash and oozes self-confidence, which is either real or imagined. …