Last night saw Sky One’s new comedy drama Stella debut on the telebox. The brainchild of Gavin and Stacey star and co-writer Ruth Jones sees her play the lead role of Stella, a divorced mother of three in her early forties struggling to make sense of her life in the Welsh Valleys. With her youth a distant memory and her life heading no where Stella looks to make a few changes and get some fun out of her life before its all over.
Along for the ride are her youngest son, Ben (Justin Davies), daughter Emma (Catrin Stewart), her eldest and imprisoned son Luke (Craig Gallivan) as well as her best friend Paula (Elizabeth Berrington) and brother Dai (Owen Teale). The usual parent-child struggles occur as Emma wants to quit school and her father, Karl (Julian Lewis Jones) and his tart of a girlfriend Nadine (Karen Paullada) encourage her. Ben tries to do best by his mother and support her and Paula tries to help her find new love, but Luke seems just there to bounce some comedic dialogue off of. I’m not quite sure what Luke brings to the show yet, but maybe it will become clearer later on. Or maybe not as he’s locked up and only sees Stella through prison visits. A range of other weird and wonderful folk decorate the streets and houses of this particular valley also.
Set in the Welsh valleys the show hopes to bring the lives, laughs and loves of the locals to a national audience. Plenty of Welsh humour perforated with the words butt, mun and tidy make it a sweet little show dedicated to the people of the valleys, but it isn’t hilariously funny. It does have its little moments and gags, but nothing to quite make you laugh out loud like Gavin and Stacey did. But then maybe that’s a good thing.
Gavin and Stacey; for all its comedy value, had little or no story, lacked a structure and at times felt like it was going absolutely no where. Stella is only 1 episode old, but it feels that maybe there’s more of a story to be told. Stella’ story could potentially be heart warming and well told, could bring tears, laughs and everything in between. A middle aged mother looking to revitalise her life is something a lot of people can identify with and with Stella once being a teenage Mother and her daughter heading down the same path its definitely a story that occurs quite often in Wales!
How good the show will be I’m not too sure yet as the first episode eased us into the story and it feels like things have only just begun. There were a few plot points that pushed us along, but it all felt as if it was setting up things to come and introducing us to the lives of the locals. Story, characters and the potential for conflict, drama and comedy were all present, but that potential wasn’t quite realised.
Stella wasn’t the greatest introduction to show that TV has ever seen, but it most definitely could’ve been worse. There is potential, but whether or not the show live sup to it cannot be determined as of yet. It could all change for better or for worse at it goes forward, but I think I’m going to give it a go and see what transpires. Tidy.
This article was first posted on January 7, 2012