Stella - In The Press
Main News Stories About 'Stella':
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
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.