GAVIN & Stacey and Barry seem an obvious combination now - but that might not have been the case if it hadn't been for Little Britain star Matt Lucas.

When location manager Clive Evans was scouting for places where the now-classic sitcom could be filmed, he was considering letting Weston-super-Mare double as Stacey's Welsh hometown.

That was, until he discovered Barry.

The next challenge Mr Evans faced was how to get his foot in the door in the community.

The name of writer and co-star James Corden - today a household name both in the UK and the USA, where he hosts a popular talk show - didn't carry the cache it does today. So, instead, Mr Evans dropped the name of Little Britain's Matt Lucas - who makes a cameo appearance in the fourth episode of Gavin & Stacey's first series - to open doors.

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Clive Evans at Marco's Cafe - a key Gavin & Stacey location

Mr Evans, whose projects also include The Bill; The Story of Tracey Beaker; Doctor Who; Very Annie Mary; Young Dracula; You Get Me; and As If, said: “I’d taken a call back in 2006 to check my availability for a small comedy for BBC Three and set in South Wales.


“I met up with Christine Gernon (director) and Ruth Jones (writer) at the Castell Mynach pub near Llantrisant one afternoon to discuss the script and the locations they wanted me to scout.

“An hour or so after the meeting, I got the call from the production company Baby Cow offering me the job.

“My first task was to sit with Dave Ferris (designer) and discuss the vision for Gavin & Stacey’s backdrop and get a feel for the key locations.

“Stacey’s hometown was scripted as a South Wales coastal town, but I was given a free run on this so the hunt took me to Aberavon, Porthcawl, Tenby, Saundersfoot, and Weston-super-Mare - a cheat if it had been suitable.

“Back in 2005 there were a few areas in Barry which were beginning to look a little tired, but it also came with a timeless charm that provided us with the perfect texture and feel that Dave and I had discussed.

“Added to this was the welcome we were given by residents and, in particular, the support of the local council.

“Porthcawl was also a serious candidate for the backdrop to this show, but having scouted tirelessly the whole of Barry and Barry Island, I knew that this ticked every box.”

Mr Evans said Trinity Street - where Stacey and her family lived, with the irrepressible Uncle Bryn over the road and promiscuous pensioner Doris next door - was an instant favourite.

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Trinity Street

“I knew (Stacey mum) Gwen’s house was here,” he said. “The terraced houses on a steep hill and its far-reaching views over to Barry Island and docks meant that no matter which direction the camera was pointing, there would be interesting textures and views.

“The next objective was to get inside as many houses as possible to see if any worked for us as Gwen’s house.

“I letter dropped about 20 houses to gauge the interest.

“I’d heard that Matt Lucas was going to be involved so I used his name get to my foot in the door. This usually helps.

“In those days very few had heard of James Corden."

Thankfully getting Glenda Kenyon, who owns the house which would appear on screen's as Stacey's family home, was more than accommodating.

Mr Evans said: “I viewed and took pictures of about five houses on that street and Glenda’s who was one of the first to contact me.

“The decor and character of Glenda’s house fitted my brief perfectly, but my first thought was that house was a little on the small side.

“To get a film crew and the actors to work in such a tight space would be quite a challenge, but if I could convince our director and designer that it could be achieved Gwen’s house was found.

“I took Dave and Christine along to Trinity Street and both fell in love with the location within minutes.”

Mr Evans continued: “Glenda was so accommodating.

“I remember very well discussing with her the details of how filming on location works, how disruptive the whole process can be and also the location fee.

“What I do remember was her reaction when I mentioned the amount.

“Glenda’s reply was: 'I’m so sorry Clive, but I don’t think I can cover that'.

“Glenda thought that she needed to pay for the privilege of having us there and not the other way round.

“She is a lovely lady and still loves being a part of the Gavin & Stacey world.”

During the locations’ breakdown meeting, we discussed how (Gavin's parents) Pam and Mick’s house might look in Billericay so homes were viewed in and around Llandaff and Sully until Dinas Powys was selected thanks to the welcome that was received.

“St Cattwg’s Church at Llanmaes was not the first-choice wedding venue for Gavin & Stacey,” Mr Evans said. “They were due to be married at St Nicholas Church at the village of St Nicholas, but a last-minute change of heart by the Church in Wales meant that we needed to find an alternative at the 11th hour.

“A friend and another locations manager called Chris Hill pulled in a favour and we were able to use St Cattwg’s.

“I don't recall any candidates other than Island Leisure (for Nessa’s Slots).

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“While filming on the front, Marco opening up early for the crew to be able to get a nice coffee as the weather was pretty unkind.

South Wales Argus:

Marco's Cafe

“We didn't use the interior of the coffee shop as a location in series one, but as it was so cold when we filmed on the seafront the coffees were very welcome.

“We also filmed at the Vale of Glamorgan Resort for the exterior of the wedding fair.

“The interior was shot at the Copthorne Hotel at Culverhouse Cross.

“While at the Vale resort, the Wales rugby team came into the reception of the hotel.

“Ruth Jones asked if I’d be able to set up a photograph of the cast with the Welsh team.

“We got them to agree so out there somewhere are pictures of the Gavin & Stacey cast with the Wales rugby team.

“Uncle Bryn’s house was only an exterior in series one so very little was involved in its search.

“Quiz night at the Colcot Arms was interesting.

“We were close to completing our filming when the pub opened to the public - so the last few shots took a little while longer than we’d planned.”

Mr Evans is originally from Cardigan in West Wales but today lives with his wife Rhiannon and daughter Cerys Mim in Brecon and runs his own film and TV facilities company.

He added: “The actors usually don’t get to see the locations beforehand.

“They are brought to set, run through a quick rehearsal then go for the real thing.

“They then have to go through the whole thing over and over with the camera shooting from different angles.

“It is a slow process and 11 hours on camera gives us around three minutes of footage.

“I get a real buzz from seeing locations that I have found on TV, but when it comes to Gavin & Stacey the story I always bring up is that while scouting in the very early days with the series producer in the car he asked if I would consider reading for Dave (Coaches) .

“My life could have been so different, but I have no regrets as no-one could have played it better than Steffan Rhodri.

“My daughter Cerys Mim was born during filming and James Corden was the first to congratulate me when I returned to work on the show after her birth.

“He joked about us naming her Nessa or Stacey.

“Barry and the Vale have always provided me with a fantastic hunting ground for film and TV locations.

“It's a huge contributor to South Wales becoming a hotspot for filming in the last decade or so.”