Gavin & Stacey's return is a Christmas coup for the BBC

It’s all the drama Mick, I just love it.

Gavin & Stacey (Credit: BBC)
Gavin & Stacey (Credit: BBC)

It was news so big that it stopped people talking about the local election results for a moment. Gavin & Stacey, the much loved BBC sitcom about the relationship between Gavin (Matthew Horne) and Stacey (Joanna Page) is returning for one more episode.

James Corden and Ruth Jones, who co-created, co-wrote and co-starred in the much loved series, posted a photo of them on Instagram holding a script with the words ‘the finale’ printed on them. And beneath it was a caption: “See you on Christmas Day, BBC One.”

This means we will finally find out what happened after Nessa (Ruth Jones) proposed to Smithy (Corden) after the screen turned to black and the closing titles rolled. And heck, you never know, we might finally get some closure about what actually happened between Bryn (Rob Brydon) and Jason (Robert Wilfort) on that fishing trip.

Read more: The Gavin & Stacey cliffhangers that need answering

Gavin & Stacey’s return is quite a coup for the BBC. The last special, back in 2019, was watched by more than 18 million, making it the most watched scripted show of the decade. In comparison, the most watched Christmas day show last Christmas was Call The Midwife, which was watched by 7.6 million.

And while the last Gavin & Stacey special was not without controversy, featuring a moment where a character said that slur from “Fairytale of New York” (a moment now scrubbed out of any repeats), the enduring popularity of the sitcom, along with that cliffhanger, has led to an expectation that it would return since, especially since James Corden has returned to the UK after he stood down as host of The Late Late Show in the US.

Gavin and Stacey is returning on Christmas Day. (BBC/GS TV Productions Ltd/Tom Jackson)
Gavin and Stacey is returning on Christmas Day. (BBC/GS TV Productions Ltd/Tom Jackson)

The announcement of the special is also a credit to the industry news site Deadline, who broke this story of a return back in February. The following day Ruth Jones told RTE Radio 1 that the story was "just a rumour," resulting in doubts on the veracity of Deadline’s reporting. Later that night at a BBC event I spoke to one of the reporters who broke the story, Max Goldbart. He told me that the sourcing of their story was ‘watertight’ and to wait to see how it all pans out. And just over three months later, they have been proven right.

The sitcom’s revival is also a reflection of the streaming age. The first two series of Gavin & Stacey aired back on BBC Three in 2007, quickly becoming a word-of-mouth hit for its warm charm, relatable humour and memorable catchphrases — from Pam's (Alison Steadman) "oh my CHRIST" and "is that IT?" to Doris' (Margaret John) "I won't lie to you, Gwen, I'm absolutely t***ted."

Ruth Jones and James Corden in the BBC sitcom 'Gavin & Stacey'. (Credit: BBC)
Ruth Jones and James Corden in the BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey. (BBC)

After moving to BBC One for a special and a third and final series, the series has since had enduring popularity on streaming services such as Netflix and its home BBC iPlayer in the decades since. It is one of those shows that lends itself to repeat viewing. I would bet that more people have watched the sitcom in the years following — for first time or repeat viewing — than in the years it originally aired. It explains the absolute colossal ratings when the show returned back in 2019.

Read more: Everything we know about the final episode of Gavin & Stacey

The finale of Gavin & Stacey will also mean one of the most bumper Christmas television schedules that I can remember on the BBC. Alongside the finale of the sitcom will be a new Wallace and Gromit animation, the first featuring the duo since ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ back in 2008, and their sixth in total.

And on top of that, there's a new festive Doctor Who special starring Ncuti Gatwa, who — later this month — airs his full first series as The Doctor along with his companion Millie Gibson. After years of people assuming that Christmas TV ratings no longer pack a punch in the streaming age, this story might prove the opposite.

Speculation in Gavin & Stacey will now likely turn whether the episode will be a wedding and how the sitcom will end. Just for the love of god, please don’t fade to black on a cliffhanger this time.

Gavin & Stacey is streaming on BBC iPlayer and on NOW with an Entertainment Membership.