BBC’s ‘Gavin’ gaining steam

Second season has already been ordered

LONDON — Launching a new comedy with a target aud of cynical twentysomethings can be difficult, but BBC sitcom “Gavin and Stacey” is making inroads.

The fact that it is produced by Baby Cow Prods., the outfit owned by edgy British comedy star Steve Coogan, aroused expectations. And now, despite employing mostly unknown writers and cast, the show — which ends its six-part run on June 10 — a second season has already been ordered.

The program is a romantic, if offbeat, boy-meets-girl story that miraculously manages to be both charming and hip.

Gavin, a wholesome boy who still lives with his parents, and Stacey hail from opposite sides of the United Kingdom; part of the humor is derived from their different social and cultural backgrounds.

After beginning a relationship on the phone, the two meet and begin a whirlwind romance that seems headed to the altar.

In class-obsessed Blighty, Stacey’s blue-collar Welsh background is a notch or two below the more aspirational Essex (an English county famed for its gauche pop and sports celebrities) inhabited by Gavin, his friends and family.

Seasoned British thesp Alison Steadman is pitch perfect as Gavin’s mom while another experienced homegrown actor, Larry Lamb, plays the golf-obsessed jovial dad. And among the supporting characters, British comic Rob Bryden, playing Stacey’s strait-laced uncle, is brilliant.

While sex and alcohol are to the fore of the storylines, the heart of the series is the sometimes innocent, sometimes awkward relationship between the title characters.

“What I love about ‘Gavin & Stacey,’ I hope, is that it has real heart to it,” says co-writer Ruth Jones, who plays Stacey’s best friend, 40 year-old heavy-smoking Welsh nymphomaniac Nessa.

Nessa is a binge drinker keen on black eyeliner and leather accessories. One critic described her as one of British comedy’s most fully realized characters since “Little Britain,” the edgy sketch show, which also bowed on niche net BBC3.

In an interview with the Guardian, Jones added: “What I find a bit wearing is the cynicism that can be found in a lot of comedy. I think there’s something nice about doing a comedy series about real people but tuning into that slight madness that’s inherent in all our characters.”

“Gavin and Stacey” was co-written with fellow actor James Corden. He plays Gavin’s best buddy Smithy, a bar fly with a weight problem.

Corden’s acting credits include the film and stage versions of Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys.” In fact, Bennett encouraged Corden to write “Gavin and Stacey.”

Corden told the BBC: “Alan gave me such confidence and said to me, ‘James, you should write some of these ideas down because they’re really funny. There are lots of people who make people laugh now and again but you really have a chance, if you write these things down, to do something.’ And when Alan Bennett says that, you can’t really argue.”

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