Gavin & Stacey | Jess: Britain's Youngest Sleepwalker | Misfits | TV Review

Will Nessa and Smithy get together? More importantly, are her fags in the baby's nappy?

Gavin & Stacey (BBC1) are back for a third and, we are told, final series. But we won't dwell on that because the thought of television schedules bereft of this last tiny bastion of warmth, wit and occasional tiny oubliettes full of wisdom is one I cannot hold for long without tears starting to brim.

It is Gavin's first day at his new job, now that he and Stacey have moved back to Barry. He is trying to present a professional front to his boss while fielding the vast array of phone calls, presents and sandwiches that are the unsought side-effects of close family relations.

I still can't see how anyone can be even tangentially involved with, never mind married to, Stacey without large doses of drugs and/or therapy, but Nessa continues to draw the sting of her presence with her own magnificently disaffected progress through life. She has strapped baby Neil to her back so that he no longer impedes her smoking. She has delegated all the cooking for his christening to Gwen, and is planning to spend the remainder of the £6,000 Doris lent her on vaginal rejuvenation. Oh, and the christening do is doubling as an engagement party for her and Dave: a discovery that naturally pains Neil's dad, Smithy, and not just because he stumped up 400 quid for costs before she told him. Is there a flicker of yearning behind Nessa's eyes as Smithy takes the baby for a photo, portending a happy ending for these two kebab-crossed lovers? Or has she just realised that she's left a packet of fags in his nappy?

In the closing scenes, Stacey and Gavin decide that they will start trying for a baby. I wouldn't trust Stacey with an uncapped Biro myself, but who listens to me?

Jess: Britain's Youngest Sleepwalker (Channel 4) was at first an almost unearthly tale. Every night, after an hour or so's sleep, three-and-a-half-year-old Jessica sits up in bed and starts moving around. For hours she sits and giggles, with unfocused eyes, at invisible delights. Not asleep, not awake and more than dreaming, she sways with spectral grace, plucking delicately, according to an unseen logic, at the air. Watching her, ancient stories of possession and faery children suddenly start to crowd your mind.

Her father is a soldier, so her mother is left alone to cope with Jessica's exhausting night-time activity. We follow her as she is eventually referred to the Evelina children's hospital sleep studies department. Electrodes are attached to her head, as her mother explains that Jess usually falls asleep on the sofa and is carried up to share the marital bed, so that when she "wakes" a few hours later she cannot wander out and hurt herself.

Five months later, Jess's brainwaves have been analysed and the results sent back, which is where what was building into an intriguing case study rapidly fell apart. Jess is in fact awake and simply engaging in a particularly intense form of the gloriously imaginative play that is the happy lot of any well-adjusted three-year-old. The doctors explain that when she wakes up, she knows she can slip easily into this world and have hours of fun there, so she does. They recommend a stricter bedtime routine and Jessica's problems disappear within days. They throw mum and the viewer a bone with a bit of talk about "eidetic imagery" to emphasise the vividness of Jessica's world; but there is no disguising the fact that she is no faery child but a perfectly normal little monkey who has gamed the system brilliantly. She didn't need five months of investigation; she needed 48 hours with Supernanny, which made this hugely anti-climactic. I don't blame the producers for being unable to waste that wonderful footage of her playing so ethereally in the dark, but it should have been made into a 20-minute short, not allowed to masquerade as a documentary.

Misfits (E4), by contrast, is the gift that keeps on giving. Last night's wasn't the best episode of the series, but it still bursts with energy, great lines and wonderful performances as our Asbo'd superheroes come to terms with their new powers, their past crimes and the responsibilities that arise from both. They also fit all that around copping off with at least half a county's worth of the opposite sex before curfew. Ah, to be young again.


Lucy Mangan

The GuardianTramp

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