Gavin and Stacey: Mathew Horne ‘faced cruel scene to test chemistry’ with Joanna Page

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Fans of the hit comedy series will be disappointed that Gavin and Stacey will not air a new episode this year and a Christmas rerun will play in its place. Horne and May will also host a two-hour show on BBC Radio Wales. In a recent interview, the stars gave insight into their tricky early auditions for the lead parts.

Gavin and Stacey has established itself as one of the nation’s most beloved shows.

Last year, more than 17 million viewers tuned-in for the Christmas special, which caught up with the Essex and Welsh families one-decade on from the last series.

The episode knocked Only Fools and Horses off the top-spot for most-watched comedy and racked-up higher figures than any other show in the last decade – apart from sporting events and the 2010 X Factor final.

Despite Horne and Page’s chemistry on screen, the actors revealed the rigorous tests they were put through ahead of being cast in the roles. 

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Horne admitted he was “slightly intimidated by” his counterpart because she was formally trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and he was merely a stand-up comedian.

He felt that the “producers were quite cruel” during their audition, which aimed to test whether there was “chemistry” between them.

A strong connection between the two of them would be vital, Horne explained, because the on-screen couple were “the glue in the series”.

He continued: “As characters… [they] bring two families – and two countries – together. If you don’t have Gavin and Stacey, you don’t have everybody else.”

Horne felt under pressure during those scenes because the “unquantifiable chemistry” they needed to carry the show was “a total lottery” and “actually quite rare”.

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He said: “But I felt it right from that first audition with Jo. I knew she was going to be Stacey, though I didn’t know definitely at that point that I was going to be Gavin.”

To test this out, they were thrown in the deep end and tasked with one of the more difficult scenes for strangers to perform.

Horne said: “The producers were quite cruel because in one of the scenes they made us read, the characters had to kiss. 

“I’ve done auditions before where that was meant to happen and there is always that tentative moment when you think, ‘Are we going to do it or not?’ 

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“But this time, I distinctly remember we just did it. It felt very natural and that gave us a great believability as a couple.”

Horne and Page passed the test and in 2007 the first episode of Gavin and Stacey aired. 

Now with 21 episodes behind them, he felt that their on-screen roles had not only defined their friendship but their careers as well. 

Earlier this month, Horne told The Telegraph: “Those two characters will be on our epitaphs. 

“And whether I like it or not, my career is defined by that role. The same is true for her.”

Playing Gavin and Stacey fostered a “shared connection” that was “unique” to the two of them. 

Horne added: “It has created a bond where we can tell each other anything. We can be very open and honest and candid with each other.

“So, this shared history is part of our friendship. Not just acting in a show, but everything that came, and still comes, with the success of that show, including the public’s affection.”

The Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special rerun will air at 8.40pm on Christmas Eve on BBC One.

Matthew Horne and Joanna Page will also present a two-hour slot on BBC Radio Wales at 12pm on Christmas Day.

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