Fans Think I'll Be like Nessa ..One Showed Me a Picture of a Naked Man and I Had to Look Away! Luckily They See Me More as Stella Now; RUTH JONES ON THE PERILS OF PLAYING FAME GAME; EXCLUSIVE
Byline: RACHAEL BLETCHLY firstname.lastname@example.org
A GROWING list of accolades. BAFTA awards. Chilling out with the President of the United States... Ruth Jones is a superstar in demand.
Which means my allotted time with her is supposed to be restricted to talking about her latest project, the third series of hit show Stella.
But 10 minutes into our interview and we are nattering away on a sofa, scoffing biscuits and discussing sexual fantasies and dodgy fan mail.
For, despite her huge success, writer and actress Ruth, 46, still can't get her head around the "fame thing".
She remains the warm, Welsh home-bird whose brilliant observation created characters like dippy Stacey, Goth-trucker Nessa, and eccentric Uncle Bryn and now single mum Stella and her equally colourful family and friends from the Rhondda Valley.
"I get recognised a lot," she says, looking puzzled. "And it's becoming more prevalent too - in London as well as Wales. I don't really understand it though. Whenever someone asks for my autograph, I still think, 'Do you really want it?' I still can't get my head around it.
"People used to say Nessa things to me, like 'Tidy' and 'What's occurring?' and sometimes they think I'm going to be like her.
"I went to a rugby match once and one of the girls who was there said to me, 'I've got to show you something.
You're going to love this.' And she showed me a picture of a naked man who was very well endowed and I went quite prudish and had to look away.
"I think she thought I was going to be like Nessa and discuss the merits of the naked man."
Fortunately for Ruth people are now starting to associate her more with Stella - and viewers have clearly warmed to the character.
"They do say lovely things about Stella," she smiles. "Really nice compliments about the show.
"Lots of women say things like, 'I'm just like Stella' or 'What are you going to do - you're not going to go off with your ex are you?'
"Someone said to me the other day, 'I really like your ex' and I have to go, 'You know it's only pretend, don't you?'
"But it's a great compliment that people get so drawn into it - they really get to know the character.
"I've done that myself. I've turned up to auditions and seen faces that I recognise and I think I know them. Then I realise I know them because they are on the telly.
NOT so long ago, I was in Tesco and a woman hit me on the arm. She said, 'Oh my God, I thought it was you.' I hit her back and went, 'Oi! Don't hit me. Wouldn't you be annoyed?'
"Then I thought about the headlines, 'Ruth Jones assaults Tesco worker'."
Ruth has become one of the best loved faces on TV but began her career in radio comedy for BBC Wales in 1991 and on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre.
In 1999 she was in the hit film East Is East and the following year met James Corden when they starred in ITV comedy Fat Friends.
The pair famously went on to write Gavin & Stacey together. The three series, which ran between 2007 and 2009, won two Baftas and four British Comedy Awards. Ruth and co-star Rob Brydon had a No1 hit with the spin off single Islands in the Stream, which they recorded for Comic Relief.
Fans are still desperate to see Gavin & Stacey return to our screens, so will there be another series, or a one-off special?
Ruth shakes her head a little sadly.
"No - there really won't be," she says.
She has also played down claims that a US version of Gavin & Stacey is in the pipeline and set to make her and Corden millions.
"Can I go on the record as saying I'm not making PS5million?" she said recently. "So to all my family and friends who think they're getting a nice present this year... sorry, it isn't happening."
Two US networks had considered making the show and now Fox have commissioned a script but Ruth said: "I mean, it could happen, but I could win the lottery. …