09 March 2011

britcom boys & girls // james corden and ruth jones

this installation of britcom boys & girls features the co-writing comedy duo of james corden and ruth jones.

name: james corden
age: 32
best known for: the role of neil "smithy" smith on gavin & stacey and timms in the history boys (film, theater, and radio productions)

name: ruth jones
age: 44
best known for: the role of vanessa shanessa "nessa" jenkins on gavin & stacey and the role of myfanwy on little britain

james corden, self-described as "the chunky unit," began his acting career in 1997 with small roles on various television programs before landing the role of jamie rymer on the comedy-drama fat friends, which aired on ITV from 2000-2005. corden's teenage character is one of eight slimming club members whom the show follows.

after a (very) brief appearance on little britain, corden found a recurring role as timms in alan bennet's play, the history boys, in 2004. he joined the cast for the international tour and reprised the role for the film adaptation in 2006.

welsh-born ruth jones had a late start in acting and only began picking up bit roles in the early-to-mid 1990s at the ripe old age (for actors, of course) of 30. jones' career first crossed paths with james corden in 2000 when she also landed a role on fat friends, playing the overweight bride-to-be kelly simpson/chadwick.

after fat friends, ruth regularly appeared as myfanwy, llanddewi brefi's local barmaid and friend of welsh daffyd "the only gay in the village" thomas (played by the always awesome matt lucas). following little britain, she portrayed t-shirt printing magz, girlfriend to steve coogan's tommy saxondale in the comedy saxondale.

while both their careers were picking up, james corden and ruth jones remained unlikely friends and eventually began writing what started as a one-off play, it's my day. the idea soon transformed into what would become gavin & stacey, one of my all-time favorite britcoms. after introducing the show to my british comedy-loving friend, he told me, "there are two parts of my television life: before gavin & stacey and after gavin & stacey." i completely agree.

the show follows the courtship and eventual marriage of young, happy, and handsome british gavin shipman and welsh stacey west. their sometimes shaky, always lovey-dovey relationship affects and brings together their families and closest friends, who, in my opinion, are the real stars of the show.

those closest friends, intended as comic foils to the saccharine main characters, are, of course, corden and jones, who play the fun-loving, but sensitive smithy and the darkly enigmatic nessa. smithy and nessa have a delicious love/hate relationship that quietly develops into the main focus of the show.

corden and jones' writing is familiar and comfortable in the sense that what their characters say and do is so natural, normal, and universal that you can't help but feel at home with the cast; you really do end up emotionally attached to them. one of the things i kept thinking as i watched gavin & stacey for the first time (i began streaming the show on my iPhone right before bed one night and ended up watching all six episodes of the first series in one go) was how much i would have loved to be friends with nessa, smithy, the shipmans (gavin's parents), and the wests (stacey's mother and uncle). it's the same feeling i had as a child when my favorite aunts and cousins would visit. you just feel as if you're with family.

the show shies away from absurd plot lines, focusing instead on simple, everyday occurrences:

enjoying a take-away curry at home,

getting a mani-pedi from friends,

messing about with your mates,

and having a quick history lesson. even when they do nothing, you want to see them and hear what they have to say.

and they say the best things! the welsh contingent of the cast speak beautifully and use the most awesome and catching of phrases: oh! what's occurin'?, tidy, lush, crackin', fair play, i's not gonna lie to you, and so many more. a linguists dream.

i totally have this app.

like all good writers, james corden and ruth jones, both of whom won a british comedy award for their portrayals, knew to stop at the top of their game. after only three series (plus one christmas special) and several awards, gavin & stacey ended on new year's day in 2010.


though corden and jones have both gone on to new and bigger projects, they remain the best of friends and occasionally hint at the possibility of a one-off return special. here's hoping

definitely make room on your queues for james corden and ruth jones. they are an amazing britcom boy and girl.


  1. I have not seen this show - but loved little Britain!

  2. oh, man, i love little britain so much! there are way too many good sketches, but my fave has to be lou & andy, especially the pride & prejudice sketch (who wouldn't love p&p?)

  3. James Corden is adorable in "The Lodger" episode of series 5 Doctor Who. Also, he'll be back for another ep in series 6. :)

  4. james corden is such a cutie! i'm just getting into doctor who - who's your favorite doctor?(that's an awkward sentence!)

  5. I love Lou and Andy - I also liked the scottish inn keeper from season 1

  6. My face is David Tennant. Followed pretty closely by Matt Smith. I'm only really familiar with the recent series.