Comedy drama written by and starring Ruth Jones as Stella, a single mother struggling in the Welsh valleys

Comedy Drama
2012 - 2015  (Sky1)
42 (4 series)
Ruth Jones, Patrick Baladi, Craig Gallivan, Catrin Stewart, Justin Davies, Steve Speirs, Daniel Gammond, Elizabeth Berrington, Bethan Witcomb, Julian Lewis Jones, Karen Paullada & more
Ruth Jones, David Peet, Ben Edwards, Simon Ludders, Robert Evans, Steve Speirs
Tidy Productions

Stella is a warm, funny, down-to-earth family saga starring Ruth Jones in the titular role as a mum juggling the demands of life, love and the next door neighbour's horse.

Stella is a 40-something mum who earns a living doing the locals' washing and ironing. And, most of the time, she's relatively happy with life as she juggles the ups and downs of her family, amid the chaos of her eccentric friends, relatives and children's fathers. Her brood consists of eldest son Luke, a lovely boy who starts the series in prison; beautiful 16-year-old Emma who's smitten with her first love Sunil; and the brains of the family, 12-year-old Ben.

Then there's Stella's best friend Paula, a functioning alcoholic funeral director. Stella's not-too-bright ex-husband Karl who's now seeing 28-year-old Nadine; not forgetting lollipop man and youth rugby coach Alan, an old school friend of Stella's who's been in love with her since 1984. Finally there's Stella's brother Dai who is an ex-serviceman injured on duty. He doesn't work now but is always willing to help out while enjoying an exciting sex life with his wife.

Stella's life isn't straightforward. Bagging toy boy Sean and son Luke's release from prison indicated that things were on an upward turn in the first run, but teenage daughter Emma's pregnancy and the untimely return of Stella's first love Rob soon knocked the family off balance. In the last episode, Luke revealed he was emigrating to Canada, although Stella stole the show by confessing to Emma that she was pregnant - but didn't know if Rob or Sean was the father.

Series 2: Series two joins Stella and Sean preparing for their new arrival, while Emma and Sunil adjust to married life. Domestic bliss looks doubtful for both, however, as Rob's business dealings bring him back to Pontyberry and Sunil enrols at a brainy (and boozy) medical school. Elsewhere, Dai begins work at the funeral home with wife Paula, creating untoward problems for the usually adventurous couple.

Catch up with lollipop man Alan too, who experiences a run of bad luck when his crossing is replaced by traffic lights. Karl and Nadine's new salon Tantastic Bodies, meanwhile, promises to make the town "browner and beefier", and they've already got a potential client in Aunty Brenda, a new arrival from Tenerife armed with bags of insults and an appetite to offend.

Series 3: Patrick Baladi joins Ruth Jones in Pontyberry playing English lawyer, Michael Jackson. Michael moves to the valleys and the house next door to Stella after an acrimonious divorce has caused him to have to downsize his lifestyle. As he tries to adjust to valley life he soon becomes inextricably linked to Stella's household.

When we left Pontyberry at the end of Series 2 Stella had made the life changing decision not to go to Canada with Rob. She also parted ways with Sean and he emigrated to Australia with his new love. As the story picks up for series 3 will Stella have entirely given up on men? Or could new neighbour Michael become the new apple of her eye?

Series 4: Life is as chaotic as ever for Stella. Just when you thought Stella's house couldn't possibly get more crowded, Michael decides to base the office for his go-it-alone solicitors' firm there.

Series 5 (coming up later): Following a turbulent ride with Michael in the romance department last series, this latest outing sees Stella decide to forgive and forget his past indiscretions. She's so tolerant, she even offers to take in the child he fathered during a fling with Beyoncé. But with a commute to London now on the cards for Michael, it'll be far from an easy ride. Plus, Stel's first husband Rob arrives in Pontberry with life-changing news for son Luke, while new undertaker-turned-dance teacher Ivan Schloss (Tony Gardner) gets pulses racing, that of Nadine in particular. Love is also in the air for Jagadeesh, who falls for the pub's cleaner (Suzanne Packer).

Ruth Jones says of the new series: "Episode ten of this new series will actually be the 51st episode! It's so exciting. Friday nights are still an appointment to view in our house even though we've seen all the episodes right through the edit etc. David and I will watch it go out with a big proud smile on our faces. We really are so chuffed with the series and can't quite believe we've made this many episodes!"