Stella - In The Press
Main News Stories About 'Stella':
Another year, another jam-packed Stella finale. And change is in the air. Michael has an interview for a job in London; the bailiffs are sent in to penniless Luke and Zoe's house and Big and Little Alan's café is forced to close. And if all that sounds miserable, it's not.
There's been charm by the bucketload in this series of Ruth Jones's gentle comedy and this final episode wraps things up in cockle-warming fashion. Every week has some ridiculous subplot that calls for fancy dress, and tonight Big Alan and Celia get their Antony and Cleopatra costumes on for their wedding. Stella has good news about her nursing exams, and Michael gets a job offer in London, but will they overcome their differences? Luke, meanwhile, is struggling with his gambling addiction so he's relieved when a familiar face offers help.
Stella goes all out to tug as many heart strings as possible in a big set-piece episode: the stag and hen dos. And it works like a dream. Stella and next-door neighbour Michael inch towards reconciliation, while working on the big celebrations, she to organise a big pamper session for the women, he to rally the troops for some paintballing.
This knockabout episode sees Common Sense Party leader Aunty Brenda on the hustings facing dodgy bookie Iwan Jenkins and a joke candidate resembling El Macho from Despicable Me 2. Looking like a superannuated Yellowcoat from Hi-de-Hi!, Brenda goes wading in with her hobnail boots. So Michael, as much to curry favour with Stella as anything else, offers a few lessons in diplomacy. But he'll need to work hard - Iwan Jenkins is all free pens, pie-in-the-sky promises and Rocky music blaring over the tannoy.
This post-watershed Pobol y Cwm has dawdled a bit lately. That all changes with the return of a Pontyberry favourite. Stella sees a woman loitering in her road, swigging from a vodka bottle. "It can't be." It is: Stella's sister-in-law and best friend Paula (Elizabeth Berrington) - back, she says, to pay the recovering Aunty Brenda a visit. How we, her friends and the show, have missed her.
The emotional fallout from Beyoncé-gate is still being felt by Stella and next-door neighbour Michael, but fortunately there are some welcome distractions. Celia's ex-husband Dan turns up, Ben plucks up the courage to talk to Lily (don't get too excited) and there's an inaugural training session for Pontyberry Ladies Football Team.
Ruth Jones's Stella is so lovable that it's never good to see her having a bad time, but with Michael having done the dirty with flirty caricature Beyoncé, our Welsh heroine needs a break. Or a drink, with Dr Honey (Ramon Tikaram). But how will she react when Beyoncé turns up at the hospital? Big Alan, meanwhile, has competition in the form of Celia's ex-husband. Gently amusing.
Just some of the different ways in which men are idiots seems to be the theme of this episode. First there's imploding lawyer Michael, who has yet to confess to the lovely Stella the full extent of his betrayal with Beyoncé. Then there's flashy car salesman and aspiring councillor Dai Davies, who believes he can woo the electorate with a free bar. Stella's eldest, Luke, thinks a spot of online gambling will fund his new house. And Luke's brother Ben is tongue-tied with infatuation for Lily. See? Idiots.
If Stella's episodes had titles, this one would be Time Bomb. The ticking before the explosion (a fling being discovered) becomes almost deafening. "Midlife Crisis" Michael (Patrick Baladi) is the culprit, playing away with barmaid Beyoncé. His live-in lover Stella is oblivious - though hospital consultant Mr Honey seems to be making a play for her.
A lightweight episode that nevertheless drives a wedge between two central characters. Prima-donna restaurateur Little Alan takes umbrage at solicitor Michael's new role as sous chef, Michael's journey into Midlife Crisis Land accelerates, and Stella's son has a disastrous first day as a hospital porter.
It's the lovely Welsh lilt that makes these leftfield lines sing.
Written by Sally Newall. The Independent, 9th February 2015
Ruth Jones's new series offers optimism and the warm blanket of community to soothe life's mishaps - perfect for watching with mother-in-law.
Written by Sam Wollaston. The Guardian, 7th February 2015
Ruth Jones's smile of a show returns for a well-won fourth series. As we catch up with the people of Pontyberry, Stella and Michael and their merged families are living in domestic bliss/chaos. So, while a contented Stella (Ruth Jones) heads off to her nursing job, Michael (Patrick Baladi) has to contend with drum 'n' bass and crying infants while practising as a solicitor from home.
Ruth Jones says there will be plenty of Welsh phrases to listen out for as Stella returns to our screens on Friday at 9pm.
Daily Post North Wales, 31st January 2015
Pontyberry's first festive special is unashamedly tinselly and warm. Longing for absent loved ones, thinking of those less fortunate than ourselves and blazing rows about turkey: these are the fundamentals of Christmas, and they're the themes here. While Stella (creator Ruth Jones) takes on a difficult patient during a nursing stint on a children's ward, the rest of the town gathers, irritably, to audition and rehearse for Auntie Brenda's charity panto.
Watching Christmas In Pontyberry has definitely whet my appetite for the fourth series.
Written by Elliot Gonzalez. I Talk Telly, 20th December 2014
We have to end on a birth or a wedding. The birth was a few weeks ago, so Luke and Zoe's wedding it is. After the arguments about how big the party will be - everyone round at Stella's, bring a plate of food, and no, Daddy Simpson will not be dressed as a bullfighter - it's time for the stag and hen dos, with the lads' standard lager and curry effort blown away by the ladies, for whom hippie Verv has made some special cakes.
Brace yourself as the third series of Ruth Jones's comedy drama hurtles to a close. With a fourth season of Pontyberry joys, tears and mishaps on the way, there are cliffs to be hung, with a clutch of storylines cued up for action. Wedding fever is in the air, with Luke and Zoe's stag and hen frolics promising to get lively. But Stella could be in for more heartbreak as Michael heads to Chichester - with his ex.
Last in the series. As Luke and Zoe's wedding day approaches, things aren't at all rosy for Stella and Michael. Shaken by Katie's accident, the handsome lawyer feels the pull of duty and ponders a reunion with his wife. Poor, cast-aside Stella drowns her sorrows on Zoe's hen night and Verv helps things along with a delicious batch of drug cakes. Will Emma see the folly of her dalliance with married Marcus? Will Michael realise the huge mistake he is making in time for some sort of emotional money shot?
This episode is almost more comedy soap than comedy drama, as young Katie has a serious accident. Her warring parents, plus Stella as an awkward third wheel, maintain a bedside vigil. As Stella wonders how solid her whirlwind romance with Michael is, Ruth Jones proves herself to be too good a writer and actor to let this dip into melodrama. Let's hope their relationship survives, so we can have more scenes like the hilarious one where Michael talks dirty in Valleys slang.
Now fans of Stella and its presence in Ferndale have spoken up for it, saying the majority of people living in the area have no problem with the filming.
Written by Carrie Evans. Wales Online, 17th March 2014
You can lose yourself pleasurably for an hour even in the less eventful episodes of this series, so an incident-packed one like this one is truly a treat. The story of Big Alan's hitherto unmentioned brother and mother, the latter of whom has died, might be in poor taste on less whole-hearted shows: it turns out Mam was an even more imposing physical presence than Big Alan, which causes logistical problems at the funeral.
There are echoes of those shows where they have to hoist 80-stone women out of bed in tonight's visit to Pontyberry. Big Alan (Steve Speirs) tackles the weighty problem of his mum's funeral - weighty being the operative term, as it turns out Big runs in Alan's family. It makes for an affectionately comic departure from the ongoing trauma of Stella's love life - she wouldn't have it any other way.
Stella's children continue to make a hairy mess of their lives as we near series end. Emma's secret relationship with Marcus maintains its inevitable trajectory towards final impact. Son Luke is released by the police following his arrest last week, and Ben is suspended from school. Where did she go wrong? No, seriously though, she's a nice, intelligent woman and her kids behave appallingly. Meanwhile, Alan's brother - also called Alan - arrives to impart some bad news, leading to an eventful family gathering.
Stella fans may be welcoming the news that the comedy drama is returning for a fourth series - but one family who live where it's filmed say "enough is enough".
Written by Carrie Evans. Wales Online, 12th March 2014