The Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special Is Everything You Wanted It To Be

Warning! This feature contains mild spoilers for the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special
What’s occurrin, you ask? Our favourite family, split across Barry and Billericay, are back on our screens and it’s been 10 years since we last caught up with them. Gavin (Mathew Horne) and Stacey (Joanna Page) have returned, and they’ve brought the whole gang with them.
You wouldn’t be blamed for being apprehensive about the reunion. A lot can happen in a decade and we can’t always anticipate whether the humour that had us chuckling over the infamous fishing trip, Pam’s (Alison Steadman) faux vegetarianism and, well, everything Uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon) had to say back in 2009 will have the same magical impact. But we’re happy to confirm that co-writers Ruth Jones and James Corden managed to pull it out of the bag. The Gavin & Stacey Christmas Reunion Special is, actually, well lush.
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The happy couple are living in Barry (because Stacey got her own way, obviously) and have three kids of their own, Kaitlyn, Megan and Harry – yes, named after the royal family. The only trouble is that Gav and Stace are not having much sex at the moment and Stacey can’t work out why. When she pops down to the arcade on the Island to ask best friend Vanessa Shanessa Jenkins (Jones) for advice, she’s reminded of the importance of keeping the spark alive. And if anyone knows how to do that, it's our Nessa, who has incidentally been sleeping with Smithy (Corden) on and off for the last few years whenever he comes to visit their son, Neil The Baby.
Neil The Baby is no longer a baby, though, he's now 12 years old and looks very much like his father. The poor kid seems happy enough, though. You'll find him refilling the slot machines for his mum and escorting her – dressed as Ebenezer Scrooge, obviously – carolling around the neighbourhood to earn an extra bit of cash.
Back in Essex it's the usual glorious debauchery at the Shipman house. Pam is pissed off about having to spend Christmas in Barry because she hates Gwen's (Melanie Walters) bedsheets, towels, house and cooking. But as wonderful Mick (Larry Lamb) reminds her, their tradition of hosting festivities on alternate years has long been established and it simply isn't their turn. Pam's manic packing is interrupted when Dawn (Julia Davis) arrives on her doorstep in floods of tears because her relationship with Pete (Adrian Scarborough) is over – again.
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Over a glass of rosé and in between sobs, Dawn explains that Pete is a drug addict. You read that correctly. Pete. On drugs. Mick and Pam reel through the possibilities until Dawn confirms that her outrage is over a joint that he found in the car. Mick and Pam laugh at Dawn's distress over "a little bit of spliff" and then Pete turns up to make amends over a rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" – it rivals the Coldplay vow renewal of season 3.
All made up, the gang get blazed in their living room while Smithy chats to Gavin in the en suite upstairs. He's sadly no longer dating Lucy. He's now with a woman called Sonia. No one's met her yet – well, except Deano – but she's due to join the Shipman-Wests for the holidays. Nevertheless, Smithy plans to give her an engagement ring for Christmas, which Gav thinks is a bit too soon. The hypocrisy isn't lost on Smithy, though, and leaving a little bit of tension between them, they bundle Pam, Dawn, Mick and Pete (all high) into the car to make the journey to Wales.
Does it feel as good as it did 10 years ago, you ask? It won't take you long to settle back into things. In fact, approaching the hourlong episode is like being greeted with open arms by the favourite, fun aunt you haven't seen in a while. Granted, the robot greeting at the front door doesn't pack quite the same punch as it used to but you'll laugh out loud at Bryn's shit chat about service stations on the M4 and his fury at Gwen for forgetting the Christmas puddings (even though it was Pam's duty to bring them). Smart, wry nods to popular culture continue to carry the fun. Bryn's facial expressions are the gift that keeps on giving and Nessa is the most reliable character who, unsurprisingly, has aged the best of the lot. You'll not be disappointed but probably not surprised, either. The magic is in the familiarity of it all and truth be told, it really is tidy.
Gavin & Stacey: Christmas Special is on BBC One on Christmas Day at 9pm and available on BBC iPlayer
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