The Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special Is Still The Best
It’s Gavin and Stacey‘s law: the holidays don’t begin until Smithy screams ‘IT’S CHRISTMASSSS’.
The Christmas special is a sacred TV institution; sooner or later, your favourite characters will celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with all sorts of hijinks and lessons along the way. In Friends, Ben learns about the Holiday Armadillo. In The Office, Dawn finally kisses Jim. In The Royle Family, we learn about how to serve ‘Cup-a-Soup with a twist… it’s going to be in a bowl’. In Father Ted, priests find themselves drowning in the ‘largest lingerie section in Ireland’.
They’re all fabulously festive, and everyone has their own seasonal re-watch. For me, you’re taking the mick (mick) if you’re not queuing up Gavin and Stacey‘s original Christmas special, an absolutely impeccable hour of British TV with some of the series’ best moments.
It’s not an off-the-cuff episode for the sake of Christmas. Immediately, it’s revealed Gavin has a new job in Cardiff, meaning he’ll be moving to Barry with Stacey – setting the stage for a living room showdown later on. It wouldn’t be Christmas without some raised drunken voices, after all.
It’s also Smithy’s first Christmas with Baby Neil, contending with Ness and an overbearing Dave Coaches. By the time the episode comes to an end, with the cob-crossed pair dreading what’s to come as the family sings Frank Sinatra’s melancholy tune, genuine progress has been made. Whether it’s your first time or one of many binges, you can’t really skip it.
There’s a smattering of intimate moments that stand out: Bryn and Gwen quietly sipping a mint Baileys, suddenly aware of their first Christmas outside of Wales; Smithy and Gavin sharing a cigarette as the plates of their lives start to shift; Bryn and Jason sharing a glass of milk and putting their fishing trip behind them.
The balance struck in the writing from Ruth Jones and James Corden is remarkable, especially given the laughs never let up: Doris telling Gwen she’s ‘absolutely tw*tted’; Smithy mistaking Midge Ure for mature cheddar; Gavin queuing to sit on Santa’s, aka Nessa’s, lap; Dave Coaches taking a break from the driving with an arcade machine; and the most fool-proof moment of all, Bryn hanging the mistletoe above his head for Gavin, only to kiss him on the lips by surprise.
That, and it weaves in all the components of Christmas we know and love, even the stress: the pressure of having a perfect turkey, and everyone offering to chip in when you’re in the zone; the annual argument about the best celebration, followed by mourning the Galaxy Truffle; huddling around board games; and everyone having a glow with countless ‘beveraginis’.
It’s not just a brilliant episode of television; it really does make it feel like Christmas.
All of Gavin and Stacey is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.
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