There’s just no stopping Ruth Jones.
She’d been plugging away as an actress for a number of years, but pairing up with James Corden to write Gavin And Stacey, the multi-award-winning show that gave birth to phrases like ‘What’s occurring?’ and ‘Tidy’, proved a pivotal point, rebranding Jones as one of the most talented comedy-drama writers on the scene and making her a household name.
The writer and actress went on to create Welsh comedy drama, Stella, which returns for a third series this month.
Jones is queen of characters, from Gavin And Stacey’s Ness and Uncle Bryn to Stella’s Alan Williams and Paula Kosh.
She’s always been interested in people, she says.
“I know this might sound boring, but I watched a series called Cathedrals on BBC Four. There were some interviews that were fascinating,” she says. “You can make assumptions about people by the way they look and then they’ll come out with something that’s really moving. I just think people are intriguing.
“The number of times I watch a documentary and go, ‘People are amazing aren’t they?’ Because they are.”
She’s said in the past that the Welsh valleys are particularly full of characters.
“If I have said that, I probably miscommunicated it,” she says now. “But what I love, being Welsh myself, South Wales in particular, is that there’s a sense of latching onto the melodrama of situations. The accent lends itself well to great big reactions.”
No one does big reactions better than Stella’s eccentric relative, Auntie Brenda (Di Botcher).
Jones isn’t sure she’d want to be friends with Brenda in real life: “She would drive you insane, but on the other hand, she’s someone you’d want on your side.”
In general, though, she and her husband David Peet, who she co-created Stella with, have a soft spot for their characters.
“I love them all,” she says. “David and I often say it feels like they really exist.”
And in a way - they do. The locals who live on the street where Stella’s shot are very much a part of the show. In fact, when the series was nominated for the British Academy Cymru Awards recently (the Welsh Baftas - it picked up three gongs), Peet organised for the residents of the street to attend the evening.
“It’s just as much their show really,” says Jones.
Belinda - the woman who lives in Stella’s house - is a nurse, and in the new series so is Stella.
Series three of Stella begins on Sky1 tonight. (Jan 24)