The quirky Welsh odd bods populating Ruth Jones’ new sitcom village may feel rather familiar, but one young actor who needs a proper introduction is Rory Girvan. This Leeds-born actor came fresh from a degree in Politics and International Studies to take lead roles on the stage and has now landed his first big TV break with Stella. I’d barely ever even been to Wales before, the 24-year-old confesses. There was all this incredible scenery around us on set and I just had to keep reminding myself that ‘Hey, this is my job.’
If you have been keeping up with the action in Stella you will know that Girvan plays Sunil, boyfriend to Stella’s daughter Emma (Catrin Stewart). This young chap might still be in school uniform but he has rather casually found himself to be an expectant father and fiance, all within the space of a few weeks. He’s pretty laidback about it all, he says about his character. He is completely besotted by Emma and I guess he just thinks that, even though it might be a few years early, it was going to happen anyway so he’s just getting on with it really.
But that doesn’t mean it will be as simple as straight forward as he thinks it will be. There will be plenty of hiccups along the way.
One such digestive blip may well occur this evening, as episode three sees the young couple celebrating their engagement with or without the blessing of mummy Stella. While doing her best to prevent her wayward daughter making the mistakes that she made, the 42-year-old granny-to-be is also looking after two other troublesome offspring, one of whom is a convicted criminal.
The story of beleaguered single mothers has been told before, it’s true. But let us give credit where credit is due; Jones apparently had carte blanche from Sky and her decision to tell the story of a single mum dealing with the strains of life is probably not everyone’s first choice setting for comedic fun to flow.
It is, however, one that rings particularly true with Girvan, who grew up in a single parent family. My mother is a single parent and when it comes to the relationship that Stella has with her eldest son Luke (Craig), that’s when I really knew I admired the writing. So many times the conversations mirrored conversations with mum. I think it’s important to show this stuff on TV, not in a really righteous way, but because a lot of people are in that situation now.
Understandably, Girvan is thrilled to have had the chance to work with Ruth so early in his career. Jones’ last sitcom, Gavin and Stacey, won a bevvy of Baftas and became legend amongst fans who have no doubt watched their box sets on replay since the series ended in 2010. It’s always intimidating working with big names but Ruth is just great, he says.
So many times I remember watching her from the side of set and being amazed by her performance.
The thing about Jones is she comes across as the kind of woman you would like to have as your best friend, to share a bottle of wine and a funny story with. Or failing that, your mum. And Girvan assures me that her maternal streak continues off-screen. There was such a family atmosphere on set. A lot of the crew were brought in from Gavin and Stacey, it was very relaxing. And co-producing the series with husband David Peet, of Tidy Productions, completes the raggle-taggle family portrait of cameramen and actors.
The decision about whether the happy family will be reunited on the set of Stella has not yet been taken. But Girvan has just finished filming his next big project, Broken, a film also starring Cillian Murphy and Tim Roth and has plenty on his plate for the time being: Of course I want series two to go ahead. Sure, the early mornings and late nights are hard but then you just have to think, I have the most amazing job and it’s all worth it.