Gavin & Stacey: 19 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets You Didn't Know About The 2008 Christmas Special
The cast of the 2008 Gavin and Stacey Christmas special
There’s a reason why the original Gavin & Stacey Christmas episode is consistently hailed as one of the best festive TV specials ever made – it is a masterpiece, as we’ve previously written ourselves.
The episode, which sees the West and the Shipmans come together for their first Christmas as an extended family, originally pulled in more than 7 million viewers when it first aired on Christmas Eve back in 2008.
Here we share the behind-the-scenes secrets even the biggest fans might not even know about...
1. The special was filmed in October 2008 over 12 days in and around Barry, leaving the team just two months to edit it until it was on TV.
2. It was conceived after writers and creators Ruth Jones and James Corden didn’t have time to do a whole new series, but could fit in making a special.
The episode was filmed just over two months before it aired
3. They had also been fascinated with the idea of bringing together the Shipmans and the Wests for Christmas, and the chance to explore different festive foibles.
4. Many of the cast fell sick with flu during filming, according to a 2017 interview Ruth Jones (Nessa) gave to Radio Times, and there was an on-set doctor.
Filming of the 2008 Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special
5. The first scene that the cast and crew filmed was the one where Smithy visits Stacey at work to ask her to help him with his Christmas shopping.
6. The scene was shot at the Culverhouse Cross Marks & Spencer, which is located just outside Cardiff – despite the store being set in Essex.
7. James (Smithy) admitted he hadn’t learned his lines properly before starting the shoot, and also had fun wheeling Joanna Page (Stacey) around in shopping crates in between takes.
Joanna Page and James Corden in between takes
8. Another location you might have spotted in the special is the Welcome Break at Cardiff Gate, where the Barry lot stop off en route to Essex.
9. The baby who played Neil was sick all over Melanie Walters (Gwen) while filming on location at the services.
10. James wasn’t driving Smithy’s car in the scene where he’s singing Do They Know It’s Christmas down the phone with Gavin – the crew used what’s called a low loader, which essentially tows the car.
Smithy's car on the low-loader
11. Mathew Horne (Gavin) was sat in the back of the low loader while James was filming his parts of the scene, and sang along down a microphone so that James could hear him in the car. He then filmed his turn as Gavin in the scene separately.
12. The child who visited Nessa’s grotto was played by Ruth’s real-life nephew, Zakk.
Ruth Jones with her real-life nephew
13. Mathew ripped his trousers while filming the scene where Gavin and Stacey come home on Christmas Eve.
14. The Christmas Eve fight scene struck fear into the director because it featured all 12 characters, and Ruth admitted she had to give him a warning after writing it.
15. The Christmas dinner the gang all tuck into was actually cooked on-location in Pam and Mick’s real-life kitchen, Ruth revealed to Radio Times in 2017.
The Shipmans and the Wests spent their first Christmas together
16. The mammoth scene was filmed on the penultimate day of the 12-day shoot, with press and promotional pictures also being taken in the house in between takes.
17. James was also caught taking naps on the Shipmans’ living room sofa during his downtime, where Juila Davis (Dawn) drew on his face.
James Corden asleep on the sofa
18. The final scene to be filmed on the last day of the shoot was the unwrapping of the presents, with Dave’s proposal to Nessa being the final shot in the can.
19. There was a feeling from James that the cast would “never make another Christmas special again” – but thankfully, that proved not to be the case, when in 2019, a follow-up finally arrived...
The Gavin & Stacey 2008 Christmas Special is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. You can also purchase behind-the-scenes documentary Gavin & Stacey: 12 Days Of Christmas on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video.