Alright, Stace? It’s been 10 long years, but this Christmas Day we get to catch up with Barry and Billericay’s finest. Tidy! So what was it like getting the gang back together? Joanna Page tells Jane Gordon all (spoiler: it was well lush…)
三级成人视频When Joanna Page looks at her reflection in the mirror, having put on a gold off the-shoulder ballgown for the Stella photo shoot, she is momentarily lost for words (something that never normally happens to her). ‘Oh, my gosh!’ she finally exclaims, in her glorious Swansea lilt. ‘I look like a woman! I have always looked so young and I never felt very womanly – but now I am beginning to feel a bit more grown-up.
三级成人视频Almost 10 years after the last episode of the show that made her a star (and the nation’s sweetheart), Joanna is back in this year’s big seasonal TV event, the BBC’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas special. And even if she has grown up – having taken a six-year break from her career to have three children with her husband of 16 years, actor James Thornton – she remains as fresh, funny and adorable as her on-screen alter-ego Stacey, still punctuating almost every sentence with ‘oh, my gosh!’ or ‘oh, my God!’.
The timing of the special was perfect for Joanna because she had reached that stage of motherhood (Eva is six, Kit is four and Noah is three) when she was ready to take on a little work. And when she received her top secret copy of the script that James Corden and Ruth Jones had written in May, she was so excited that she couldn’t bring herself to open it and read.
三级成人视频‘I just wanted to look at it and savour it. And then when I finally started reading and saw the line where Nessa says, “So Stace, what’s occurring?” I just started crying. I thought, “Oh my God, I never thought I would hear that again,”’ she says. But what really struck Joanna, 42, as she read through the script was how much her own life with James, 44, paralleled that of the fictional Gavin and Stacey.
‘I totally relate to them and where they are in their marriage now, because I know what it’s like to have three children: it’s exhausting. The central scene when Stacey and Gavin are on Barry Island and she says that they “have got to keep the fires burning” is so relatable. Because it is so easy to lose the spark when you have small children. James and I have had three date nights in seven years and I was so exhausted that for the last one I said, “Let’s just go to the cinema because then we don’t have to talk.” Although somehow or other, unlike Gav and Stace, we have managed to maintain a healthy sex life,’ she laughs.
三级成人视频It was on the first day of the two-week rehearsal period that most of the original cast met up again after almost a decade. ‘We were all nervous in different ways because it had been 10 years, and we have all gone through so much. James has three kids too and his career has rocketed, but he was just the same. We all were. We walked into the rehearsal room and, my gosh, within 15 minutes we slotted straight back into where we were 10 years ago. Although James has got more expensive trainers and a more expensive cardigan,’ she says.
For Joanna, in fashion terms, rather the reverse has happened since the last series. Having three children in six years – with all the exhaustion and expense that involves (she and James have no childcare) – she has lost interest in the clothes she used to love. ‘What do people wear now? My God, I used to go shopping – Selfridges, Net-a-Porter, lovely handbags, beautiful dresses, all my heels… They are all boxed up now. For so many years I have either been covered in sick or poo or food, that now I just get up in the morning, put my jeans on, a jumper and trainers and that’s me done.’
三级成人视频I tell her I have heard a story about her buying a pack of five Curly Wurlys for the children before she set off on the school run and, by the time she got there, eating them all herself. ‘Oh my God! The Curly Wurlys! It’s true. But coming back to work now when I’m no longer breastfeeding and am not in the mindset of, “I am going to have another baby,” I’ve lost a lot of weight naturally because I have more time to eat like a normal human being.’
三级成人视频In fact, after six years of being a full-time mum (James also gave up his role as John Barton in Emmerdale shortly after Joanna had Eva to focus on voice-overs so he could be hands-on with the children) she no longer regards acting as ‘work’. ‘I used to get nervous about my acting being good enough. But now I am very much like, “Stop panicking and just do it,” and I think that’s what children have done for me,’ she says.
三级成人视频John, too, is preparing to do more acting now that ‘no one is in a high-chair any more’ and they are enjoying more downtime together. ‘We do normal couple things like watching box sets. We started watching that amazing series Succession – but I started secretly watching it in the middle of the night. Finally I had to confess that I had watched it on my own and he said, “I can’t believe you have done that without me!”’ she says.
三级成人视频Joanna won’t reveal whether there will be more Gavin & Stacey (without spoiling the Christmas special, it does end on a real cliffhanger). But she has several other projects in the pipeline. In the upcoming film Dream Horse – released in April – Joanna plays Damian Lewis’s wife in the true story of Jan Vokes (played by Toni Collette), a cleaner from south Wales who persuades local people to form a syndicate to raise a foal that, against the odds, becomes a champion racehorse. She has also been seen this Christmas in Johnny Vegas’ feature-length TV drama Dial M for Middlesbrough.
The idea of doing Strictly in the next couple of years (they ask her every year) is becoming more tempting because Eva loves the show. And she would jump at the chance of doing Celebrity Bake Off because her passion is making cakes. I tell her that, all dressed up for our shoot, she reminds me of Reese Witherspoon, and ask if she has similar ambitions to produce or direct.
‘Absolutely not. But I have started writing about my life as a mum, and I’m really enjoying that and want to develop it further. I think the reason that some actresses go to the other side of the camera as they get older is because after 40 it’s hard to get the parts. But I have been an ingénue for so long – I was never allowed to go for roles where you are a policewoman and have to shoot a gun because I was this kind of child-woman. Now I am going up for stuff and being seen as a woman and it’s so exciting,’ she says.
People sometimes forget that Joanna is a Rada-trained actor, who has had roles at the National Theatre (including as a schoolgirl in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) and in TV costume dramas such as the BBC’s David Copperfield, which mostly required her to talk in RP rather than pure Swansea. She was then cast in the 2003 Christmas film Love Actually, as Judy alongside Martin Freeman’s John, the couple who fall in love making a porn movie.
三级成人视频‘My children haven’t seen it yet but I am thinking I will probably show it to them soon,’ she says. So the semi-nudity wouldn’t be a problem? ‘I breastfed all three of them for so long,’ says Joanna. ‘I mean, Eva said to me the other day, “Oh Mummy, your boobs are a glorious place to be” and then she put a toy dinosaur under one and said, “You can put anything under them and just leave it there.” I remember when I was a really young girl reading about the pencil test, where they decide whether or not you need a bra by seeing if you can hold a pencil under your breast. And they always fell out. I have a real sense of achievement that after all these years I can not only hold a pencil, but a whole dinosaur under there!’ she says.
三级成人视频Joanna is at her most endearing when she is talking about life at home with her children in Oxfordshire. Totally relaxed about ageing (‘bring it on’), the only exercise she takes is a power yoga class in her local village hall, and she rejects the industry pressure to stay young and artificially beautiful. ‘I am not going to do something like make Stacey, 10 years on, look really pretty and slim or whatever. I was like, “Well, she has had three kids, she’s living in Barry and this is what she is going to look like and this is what she is going to wear.” Basically what I wear.
Nor does Joanna have the kind of beauty routine that the make-up artist on our shoot expected. ‘She said, “How do you cleanse?” and I said, “Well, I just use soap. And at night I put a little bit of Nivea hand cream on my face to moisturise.” It costs about three quid and it’s the only thing I have ever used. Although I did once buy a ridiculously expensive one and when I put it on my face it was so rich I came out in spots, so I threw it in the bin,’ she says.
Joanna is not a huge fan of social media but just over a year ago she ‘entered the 21st century’ and joined Instagram. Most of her posts are pictures of dogs, cakes and discreetely posed snaps of her children. I mention a standout post from a few months ago about her and her mother’s trip to see Ant Middleton on tour. The caption is, ‘Fingers crossed I don’t fall off my chair somehow and have to be saved by Ant leaping off the stage and throwing me over his shoulder!!!!’
‘I do like a man who is strong and manly – I mean, James is like 6ft with dark, curly hair, and strong – but Ant Middleton? James knows I have the biggest crush on him ever. Just before my 40th birthday, I caught my dad and James whispering about a “special surprise”. I said, “I know what it is: a videotaped message from Ant Middleton saying, ‘Hi Jo, happy 40th birthday,’” and they were laughing and saying they didn’t want to spoil the surprise. So I was convinced that’s what they had done, and do you know what the surprise turned out to be? A greenhouse,’ she says, practically crying with laughter.
It’s obvious, though, that the couple have ‘kept the fires burning’. Has James ever had a crush? ‘He did used to have a thing about Ola Jordan. He used to go on about her all the time when she was on Strictly. And I was like, “Oh for God’s sake, she’s married to James Jordan – you haven’t got a chance there.”’
三级成人视频As we part – Joanna back in her mum uniform of jumper and jeans – she picks up her phone and looks through some pictures. ‘Oh my goodness, it’s so nice to feel pretty again. I got someone to take pictures of me today so that I can take them home to James and the children and say, “This is what I will never look like – except in Stella magazine.”’
The ‘Gavin & Stacey’ Christmas special is on Christmas Day at 8.30pm, BBC One
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