Stella - In The Press
Main News Stories About 'Stella':
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
Star and showrunner Ruth Jones wisely hands her scripting laptop to Steve Speirs, the actor who does such fine light comic work as Big Alan, for Big Alan's big episode. Yes, Alan's taken hostage by a militant pensioner on a bus trip to Bristol Zoo, but his main trial is convincing Celia to give him another chance after he bottled out of taking their relationship further.
Not as many funny lines as usual in this episode, although Yasmine Akram is overplaying it nicely as Parvadi, the dangerously bored and randy assistant in her uncle's convenience store. Oh, and the rivalry between business partners Aunty Brenda and Dai Davies is becoming obsessively bitter, to the point where only murder or fiery sex can resolve the tension. Either would be scary.
Michael decides to take Stella as his date to the charity dinner to annoy his ex-wife. Stella's vow to steer clear of men for the foreseeable melts in the glare of Michael's twinkly eyes, even though he's a tool with no consideration for her feelings. Meanwhile, daughter Emma treads on dangerous ground with Marcus and Big Alan loses his nerve with Celia. Still good but this was more fun with Elizabeth Berrington's alcoholic, sexually voracious funeral director. When's she coming back?
Ultimately there's a good reason this show is called Stella and not, I don't know, Greetings from Pontyberry or some such. The ensemble are like a family we love seeing once a week, but the heart of the show is always Ruth Jones's creation. Her hopes and feelings are ours.
Businesses are booming in Pontyberry. Brenda's Buses has the luxury of choosing whether to take the local pensioners to the retail outlet on the A470, or the special needs children to Castle Cook. Inevitably, Aunty Brenda wins out. "I think we should take a leaf out of Whitney Houston's book - God rest her tortured, bloated, drug-addled soul. It's the children are the whatcha-call."
It's a canny move, placing Stella's new antagonist Michael (Patrick Baladi) in the house next to hers. With Aunty Brenda and her new brood just across the road, not to mention those weird people with the donkey, the street's crowded with people and the farce is stronger. Tonight, delinquent young smoker Ben has a surprise when he breaks into Michael's place. Note to househunters: look in the attic to check half the party wall isn't missing.
After some necessary spadework last week to set up the new series, now creator/star Ruth Jones pens one of the show's funniest ever episodes. Every scene brims with jokes, malapropisms ("Your dad is as strong as an egg!"), hilarious images and fruity phrasing. Aunty Brenda is in particularly searing form, struggling with her hippy daughter ("Me and 'er father split up when she was ten - she's been a road accident ever since"), questioning the integrity of the scales at Blubber Busters, and holding tense, tough negotiations with Dai about the launch of their new coach-hire company. Dai Davies, not Dai Cosh.
Back into the light embrace of Pontyberry for a third series of Ruth Jones's comedy drama, which always manages to be comforting and inoffensive without being twee.
Could this be third-season lucky-in-love for Welsh valley girl Stella? Ruth Jones is centre stage again in the warm-hearted comedy that returns tonight bathed in an optimistic glow. Stella's got herself a brilliant new job as a nurse and her fledglings are all back in the nest. The only thing that ails our Pontyberry lass is an acute case of singledom. Then again, a divorced lawyer (Patrick Baladi) has just pitched up next door, setting the scene for a spot of romcom sparring.
The return of Ruth Jones's likeable but increasingly derivative comedy-drama about a single mum in small-town Wales. The house overflows with kids and grandkids while she trains to be a nurse; the ironing is backing up, and she's possibly having "the change". Meanwhile, Patrick Baladi's arrogant, recently divorced lawyer arrives in Pontyberry as the latest big-city-fish-out-of-water/obvious new love interest for Stella. They lock horns in a road-rage incident, ensuring they'll be doing it up against the Sharps built-in wardrobes by episode three.
Eager fans continue to speculate about a comeback for Gavin & Stacey. In an exciting development for the show's legions of supporters, Jones won't rule it out.
Written by James Rampton. The Independent, 22nd January 2014
Best writer was Ruth Jones for comedy series Stella. Backstage she said: "I'm really surprised at how, like, in shock I am... I can't speak I'm so excited. The competition in the category was incredible... this is really exciting."
BBC News, 30th September 2013
Ruth Jones's small-town saga has lost none of its charm or wit in this second series - and it's repeated the trick of building up stories that run seamlessly from episode to episode. Tonight's double bill finishes off the current run.
Jack Seale, Radio Times, 8th March 2013
With a third series already limbering up, there are bound to be plenty of cliff-hangers tonight as the warm-hearted Pontyberry delight written by and starring Ruth Jones bows out with a double-episode finale. With the good - and not so good - folk of the town still picking up the pieces of their lives after the blistering bust-ups of Fight Night, the focus is on the future. Will Emma forgive Sunil? Is the final nail in the coffin for Paula now Dai's declared he wants a divorce? Will Big Al ever win at anything? And, with Rob poised to push off once more, what will become of Stella? There will be tears...
Fight night in Pontyberry. Not just hotheads Luke and Lenny clashing in the ring over Zoe, but Big Alan squaring up for a scrap over his beloved rugby club. We know there's a rousing, Churchillian speech in the offing, and it's well worth the wait. It's an Alan-heavy episode, and that's no surprise: Steve Speirs, who plays him so brilliantly, is also this week's writer.
Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 1st March 2013
Ruth Jones's soft-centred drama enjoys a pugilistic diversion tonight as Steve Speirs takes the writing credit for an episode that puts Big Alan in the centre of the action. While Stella feels like boxing Rob's ears for letting son Luke loose in the ring at Pontyberry's fight night, Big Alan is girding his loins for a life-changing battle on two fronts: the custody of Little Alan and the future of his precious rugby club.