Gavin & Stacey: series three, episode one

Gavin is feeling homesick in Cardiff as the clan get set to reunite for the christening of baby Neil

Warning – the following contains more spoilers than a pimped out Ford Escort. If you haven't seen episode one yet, don't read any further.

Gavin & Stacey is back, hurrah! And it's Gavin's first day in his new job in Cardiff. Settling in is proving tough because everyone keeps ringing him – and Uncle Bryn pops in with a packed lunch while he's in a meeting with his boss. But at least it's a veritable smorgasbord of sandwiches: cheese and pickle, cheese and ham, cheese and tomato... and just cheese.

But Gavin is feeling a long way from his Essex home. Everything feels foreign, from being invited to join the work seven-a-side team and finding out it's rugby, not football, to flicking through the TV channels and only finding Welsh weather, Welsh news and Welsh-speaking TV. And of course there's his complete mystification over the hilarious joke about his colleague Owain Hughes ("and before you ask, no I don't"). Anyone?

Meanwhile, back in Essex, Smithy is (according to Pam), "struggling to come to terms with the loss of Gavin". Mick points out that he's not dead, Pam replies "you're so cold-hearted, Mr Shipman", and already I'm chortling inappropriately. Smithy feels abandoned, but at least he has a trip to Barry to look forward to for baby Neil's christening.

Smithy is, of course, baby Neil's real father, but he's got competition in the daddy stakes in the form of Nessa's fiancé, Dave Coaches, whose caravan Nessa is now living in, having given up her room at Gwen's to Gavin and Stacey. Baby Neil's full name is Neil Noel Edmond Smith – named after Smithy's granddad Edmond and Nessa's mate from Hear'Say – definitely NOT Noel Edmonds.

All of which means that the full Essex crew are heading to Barry in Wales – Smithy gives Pam and Mick a lift from Essex, along with his sister Rudi and narcoleptic/alcoholic mother Cath, played in all her glorious awfulness by Pam Ferris. Pam is most disgruntled at eight hours in the back of the can listening to Cath's medical woes.

The christening all goes off well, despite Gwen's neighbour Doris refusing to make a salad for the buffet because Nessa has owed her £6,500 since 1992. She's paying her back at £1 a week, which means the debt will be paid when Doris is 140.

Favourite moments this week

• Pam's call to Gavin on his first day – "You're a victim of victimisation, get out now".

• Uncle Bryn's christening performance of Labi Siffre's Something Inside So Strong with crazy pensioner Doris on drums.

• Doris's rant about Nessa – "I'm crabby, I am. It's that time of the month".

• And my clear winner – Smithy's horror at seeing his sister Rudi rock up for the journey to Wales, when she has clearly been out all night:
Smithy: "You're not coming like that"
Rudi: "I am"
Smithy: "It's a christening... your nephew's christening"
Rudi: "Yeah, you're right" (gets out mobile phone)
Smithy: "What are you doing?"
Rudi: "Just seeing if I can find someone who gives a shit".

The verdict

One episode down, and it seems that James Corden and Ruth Jones's writing is still right on the mark. Or maybe it's just that absence makes the heart grow fonder – what did you think?


Heidi Stephens

The GuardianTramp

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