« Desert Island Discs

Ruth Jones, actor and writer

2019-01-13 | 🔗
Ruth Jones is an actor and writer. She co-created and starred in the award-winning TV comedy series Gavin and Stacey, and also wrote and took the title role in the comedy drama Stella, which ran for six series. She grew up in Porthcawl, in South Wales, where the local secondary school nurtured her love of performance. She took to the stage in numerous school musicals, along with fellow pupil Rob Brydon. After studying drama at Warwick University, she struggled at first to find work as an actor. She briefly considered becoming a solicitor, before she won the role of a ninja turtle in Dick Whittington at the Porthcawl Pavilion and gained an Equity card. Her TV work ranges from costume dramas to comedies including Little Britain and Nighty Night. She developed the idea for Gavin and Stacey with James Corden when they were both filming the ITV series Fat Friends. The story of a boy from Billericay who falls for a girl from Barry, Gavin and Stacey began on BBC Three, with Ruth’s role as straight-talking, leather-wearing Nessa winning people’s hearts. She and James wrote every episode, and the finale, on BBC One, reached more than 10 million viewers. Last year Ruth published her first novel, Never Greener, which topped the bestseller lists, and she returned to the stage in the musical play The Nightingales. BOOK CHOICE: Halliwell's Film Guide LUXURY: The back catalogue of The Archers CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Smooth by Santana feat. Rob Thomas Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Sarah Taylor
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Bbc sounds music radio, podcasts, hello, I'm Lauren Laverne, and this is the desert island discs podcast. Every week I ask my guests to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they'd want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island rights reasons. The music is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening. The my castaway this week is the writer and actor with joy means she's the star of many stage and screen productions, but best known and loved the hope after winning creations. avenant, stacy and stella the characters she portrayed
in booth series nasa in Gavin and stacey, and the eponymous stella are unforgettable, funny down to earth and hugely capable. It's tempting to see this as a kid of art imitating life, since they create a exhibits, a similarly grounded view of her enormous success as an actor screenwriter show runner and now best selling novelist. She got her equity card by shifting scenery and playing a ninja turn Michelangelo, since you ask in ponto and perverse spending time at home, with old friends to showbiz events after a recent incident when she failed to recognize a famous singer and congratulated him on what she assumed was an excellent amateur performance. She commented I'm really not good in that world. I get it wrong, so it's better for me to stay out of it. That's why I live in cardiff. I am not going to find any pops at the end of my dr ruth jones, welcome to desert island earth. Thank you very much so hoping to be here, whilst, hopefully we're not too sure busy for you today. This is radio, so
bestial likely to be offered. Is inopportune biscuit, that's fine by me, I'm a big fan of biscuit and a huge fan of the tea fact and obesity. Creates so many well of tv characters, some of whom you've also played like stella and nessa? How do those creations take shape? Is it a slow process or is it a light bulb moment? I don't think there's a hard and fast rule to it really. I remembered the one key thing: the starting point for nasa was that she would always sing wild thing at her friends, weddings, and that was very much based. In truth, I have been to give a little version myself at times and when it comes to writing, how do you like to work, you know depends if it's collaboration so of sea with governs stacy. I worked with James cordon and we always wrote together whenever such went away and root separately and then came back and showed each other what we ve done we'll world. in the room together and the same stella. I co created it with David
Heat and stellar was a much bigger machine, in a way because it was tat, one hours each series and out we had laughed at other, really great writers and was a team effort, and I just love to me. I always feels with creating anything that ends up on screen. Oh as recently you mentioned in a book starting with the little seed and planting and then seeing it grow into this big palm to tree. Hopefully, fifth You're gonna be sharing some of your tracks today, your favorite music tell us about the first disc and why have chosen it picking eight tracks from as far back as I can remember, has been a very, very difficult task, but when I was little, I'm one of four children have matured brothers, marking Julian my little sister, maria under one glorious memory I have, which is quite a regular event in our house, is that my dad would, by the latest, max boyce album
and we literally would sit around as a family and he put the lp. the old record player and we would listen to it and I have very, very affectionate memories of all of max voices album. But the ballad of morgan. The moon is a particular favorite, because I just thought it was such a funny story. We ended up in missis, dent class when I was seven singing at the whole class, dressed up as rugby support, as we made our own red and white resets had a red and white hats on and Helen shepherd got to carry the giant leap. Which I have still not forgiven her for, and I think perhaps that was My earliest memories of wanting to perform, because I wanted to carry that giant leak, wasn't fat, but yeah. Max boyce holds a very special place in my heart and morgan. The moon will always make me smile
among the men cunning. I a him when we one's been lucky, that's school. They really tell from an old, winding engine. Let me pound on the dollar bill in an hour by EU, saying that max boyce, the lots of morgan, the moon. You know it was lively with Back in the early seventies, I think when this album live at york, he came out marks place, which was at the sea bank hotel in both call on term my dad was having a drink and he saw locks place any. He- Literally ran home live couple of streets away from their caught. My mammy said Anna Hannah mac spice at the sea bank, hotel quick
bring the album and should bring the album with her. She met max boys was introduced, he kissed her hand and he wrote to deal Hannah with love voice on the album, and we went with my mom to see max voice again lives. He still performing, and he signed again. So we ve got a devils find album max boyce utterly precious. This track was referring to a time when you remember a taste for performing in wanting to to be in the spotlight. When did you get your chance? It wasn't carrying the giant leak, know that chance passed me by I used to go to little theatre, which was my grandmother to me too. Free week and I think I had to one line in a pantomime early on. knew that I loved being in front of an audience. I mean I played the guitar when I was quite young and my dad's would offer
rules come down and play streets of london for everyone. If they had a party or something I was always playing streets of london and as my sister got She would be rope, didn't do the harmonised, but it did love that sense of performance, but I don't think it was really till. I got to political, comprehensive where we had a brilliant drama teacher roger, been who to rob right in his while and term every year, which would produce a musical we'd rehearse all year round, then we would do well story and carousel and guys and dolls, and it was actually heavenly- I loved it- and I think that's probably where I I kind of got the real buzz for it all. Let's go to the music tell me about your next disk today I mentioned that I love westward story.
And I remember my dad buying the owl them. They regional, sound chalk and was this red and black and white album, and am I lived all of the songs on the edges of the research dramatic, but I've chosen track, because when I was a little girl- and I was listening to her- I just It's so amazing that I had. Little sister cooled maria, and there was song on there called maria and hearing it asked mister amazing that Maria got a song named after her, and I even used to thinking like her you, get confused in your head. When you little, I even to think my dad was actually singing on the alber. My she thought he is my dad's voice on that. And I can remember her coming back being brought back from the hospital just so amazing that there was this baby, but I'm I'm very proud of my little sister and she even though she's like forty
and now she still my little sister tat. The sun will always remember her. I guess It's just that I named my son. That name will never be the same it Maria. I just I'm sorry. Maria from west side story sung by jimmy bryant from the original soundtrack recording composed by leaded bernstein and stevenson time reef jones. You were born in bridge. and glue morgan in wales in nineteen sixty six tell me about your mom and dad mum was a doktor dad worked at the steelworks a trained as a solicitor. I guess a very traditional south wales
non while speaking whilst family and I went to the local private school and local, compliant, save fund for kids and my mom was working full time as well. As a doctor, and we kind of muddled along really many writers, is that family members as inspiration. I think Alan Bennett's written about recycling his own own repeatedly. Would we recognize any of your family members character traits in your work? If I said yes, they would will kill me now I have certainly lifted lines from relatives united shameless stolen those term. Why love about being while she is that were very melodramatic is so much. Instead of auntie Brenda played by the brilliant departure. She epitomized that type of welsh woman who could never say yes
oh, no, she always said yes or no, and I love that about the worship of the way that we embrace everything so dramatically, and the tiniest little thing can be a massive drama. Tentacle music tell me about your third disk today. Why be chosen this? When I was fifteen. I made a new friend my friend carry who was very exotic because she came from cardiff, and so she had only six fighting new music to listen to and this one album she had was bette midler's the rose, the actual song, the rose that was taken from the album became a bit of an anthem them really for me, and my friend Over the years we have been known to sing this song at various friends, weddings, probably even a couple of funerals of parents and things
Christenings, we don't really need an excuse. We will always sing the rose, and I pity the people that have to listen to x. We tried to do these harmonies on. It must sound atrocious, but sir yeah, it's very much our anthem, it's a yes, The rose Some by bet made love ruth jones. leaving school. You went to work university to do theatre studies, undramatic arts. Why was warwick the place for you? Well, it wasn't so much that I chose war.
But more chose me in that it was the only university that offered me a place, but I dont think I have the confidence at that stage to apply to drama school, and so I thought well. Maybe the best thing is to apply for an actual degree then take it from there are not many universities in those days did drama degrees, and I had one interview at manchester which didn't go well at all. Why don't well me? I had to fill out a form to talk about a production that had seen in recent times and on this form I had to describe the production I'd seen recently, and there was another girl who is very trendy and yeah I'm going to talk about new to crash, or I might talk about the caucasian chalk circle. I just saw a production of and she was very, very childish or leg, warmers and ybarra, and I was quite intimidated. You ve talk about abandonment and cats. When I went into my interview
They were asking me various questions on my mind, just went blank and I think the interviewer felt sorry for me to sit here, tell us what you reading at the moment. What she bedtime reading at the moment and Jackie call hollywood wives only just looked at me, you know the only place, the the interviewer well was warwick, because the guy that was interviewing me loved musicals cos that's all I knew was musical score. We did when every year in school- and I was on youth theatre at the time when our rate of results came out and there to queue up where we were doing, the fish are cause for the phone box and phoning. A my dad had gone up to get my results. Tat is truth. He went you got an a in english, a b in history and a b and drama on how to swim. I'm going to war, and go to work, and I was so happy time
this music? What ve chosen few fourth disk today? It's a very difficult to choose eight songs, and so what I thought I'd do is go a little bit kind of four double bubble and too Is that had a massive influence on me when I was growing up, and I still of listening to today, which aims to taylor and carole king and I chosen you've got a friend because I really am very lucky to have had such wonderful friends in my life is, will always room, leave them. As you see Yeah it's winter,
James taylor and carol king. You ve got a friend knots of actors, careers take away, well to get go in and you did do other jobs and to make ends meet. What sort of things did you do? I did a tour of the marriage of figaro, and that was great, but then there was nothing after that, so in honor how to pay my rent. So I went to work at the royal borough of kensington and chelsea borough council and was a clerical assistant there for a good long. While and I just thought what is happening to me- I'm not ever going to act again, so I moved back to wales and was going to become a solicitor because I just saw I'm clearly not going to become an actress just
not happening, and then that's when one of the letters that I had written over the year, you know I mean I kept trying for jobs came to fruition. Uncertain standard, who is a pantomime producer in my home town of porthcawl, are offered me this job, shifting, scenery and being a ninja turtle, and that's when I got my equity card, your first big tv, I think he came in K, mellas, itv series, fat, friends and it's quite a pivotal role for you. I remember how to play a part that was much younger than me, so I went out and bought some trendy clothes, but I kept the labels on so that I could take them back. I'm never going to be seen dead wearing these clothes again and it was one of the best or I've ever had in my life because they, when I was their case at all. This has never happened to me before, but she offered me the part in the room. I mean it was so exciting and it was the first time that you weren't with James couldn t. You would go on to create governing statement. Yes, indeed,
we should have hung out a little bit together. And then he talked by this idea that he's had about a wedding between Scotland, an english boy damn because we were Staying in a hotel where there were lots of conferences and things going on, we step so people watching the bar, and because of that would be the drunken anti and that would be the geeky uncle and we wrote up these character. His and then one day I think when fat friends was being trailed, he was about to come on and we had to go on richard and Judy or something like that. We met up in the hotel beforehand him. So I said, let me just write this app now this treatment for what this. Whatever this thing is, it was originally called it's my day and it kind of went from there really.
let's have some more music. It's your fifth disc tell me about this. One we've chosen it. I think this song is the sexiest song ever ever made. I mean every time I hear it. I just want to get up and dance, and I just ah the lyrics it's just so potent and hot and sexy. I just love the opening man. It's a hot
one just seven inches from the midday sun smooth. until now. It is factually. Isn't it I wonder if it oh it's my word. I know, innovate. I just live at home. Give me a heart, make it real or let's forget about it:
was to working on fat friends that you and james cord and start thinking about writing something together. We now know, of course, is the path to award winning hit sitcom governance stacy. But how did it begin? We wrote this treatment, which I still got somewhere and it was basically the lead up to this couple's wedding day and we send to into Stuart murphy, whose at BBC three then- and he said- let I absolutely love this- that we don't have one hour slots and, let's dramatize the backstory. To this couples wedding. How did they meet what their relationship was like? So that's what we did and we wrote the first two apps I can still remember. Getting an email from Stuart murphy, saying. I think this is going to be one of the best things that BBC three ever makes, and I remember at the time thinking interests thus a bit
bit matches net. But you know I should ve thank you stew. It cause. It deserves a dumb, badly governed stacy at the time. James was on tool with the history boys and I think he was in new zealand and he just literally just got off the plane, Annie phone manual or I and I went all smithy. We got a green light I'm so happy days, happy happy days. Let's have another track. Tell me about your sick disc and why have chosen it? One of the great things to come out governs stacy was getting to film the comic relief film and to record the single of islands in the stream. We got to go to vegas and film less we to it with Tom Jones- who was an absolute joy and
Essentially there with my friend rob from school and we were making a pop video and I'll never, gas being in that room where the moment came by Tom Jones hutches of walk through the crowds in part, the crowds ass he entered and robin I just looked at each other, and so I feel that because we were like, we meant to political cup. and look at us now, it's time to deal with syria would Tom Jones, I think The reason I love it is because you have raw rob as unclear. Bryn hanging these american lyrics with a really strong, well shock, sent like cease as a fine tooth comb It will always remind me of one of the happiest times of my life.
and I will tell you for me when I was buying- was something islands in the stream comic relief rees jones great to hear you and rob singing together, which you have always enjoyed. It was absolute pleasure to do it. How lucky am I set up your own production company, with your husband, David and together, created the tv series stella. What's it like working together, it was a joy to create stellar together. It really was because it was the next step and arena was quite scary. Going from, I knew that everybody was going to be looking at what I was going to do next after gavin and stacey
initially we thought about setting stellar in Bristol? Why did you decide not to bristol seemed like quite near at the time cause we living in cardiff, but I didn't know anything about Bristow I just thought. Well, you know, I know about wales. Sweet decides to go inland a bit and go up the valleys at where there is such a beautiful, rich landscape, both culturally and geographically, too, that is a serious and how important has you whilst identity being to your work? And what do you draw from it? No, I was brought up in south wales, and people are brilliant. You meet such brilliant people who don't know that their funny, who just don't know that what we are saying is hilarious and I live celebrating that really and I'm a hugely proud welsh person. I will sing
color, online and evil been see five long at the drop of a hat, probably with my friends when we have too many drinks but and will try to harmonise. I just love it's something very special day well I know that you said in the past that you lapse into extreme wellness when you nervous- or at least you did it in the old days. Does that still happen? I think he's so. Security blanket to go to my original strongly shocks, and so when I have met people who are a little bit kind of overwhelming such us president obama, whose very tool as well, I have to say they tool and very handsome, and he lent down was introduced to me let down, because you so tall answered very pleased to meet you. Undone, I said, can I just say: oh congrats, relations salute the brilliant fantastic minded thumbs double sizeable thumbs up to him and in it
heat bless him. He said. I really must learn how to say that brilliant fantastic, let's have some music. This is your seventh disc today, kate recipe I met in oh about two thousand and two. I think I was doing a film and it's called heartlands, and it was set in sort of south yorkshire and Kate did the the soundtrack for it basically, and she also appeared in it, and I became a fan ever since, Her voice was actually extraordinary, and so our chosen underneath the stars, because I thought well if I'm on a desert island and I'm looking up at the sky, I can listen to this and I can think about other people
in my life, who are not around anymore. I lost to my reedy, dear friend, lucy last january, and I lost my dad six months before that and to him it was a beaver year. actually the facade a sad year, and so I will lie on the desert island and I will look up at the stars and am, I would think about them, because I think they are lacking. Actually, in their own way, me. It's great yeah? It is a view. Why Yeah
image. kate busby underneath the stars I paid to cast you away, of course, to our desert island. How do you think you'll be with the solitude that you'll in Canada? I will miss everybody that goes without saying. I won't be able to cope without David, really I'll, miss him so much. But that said, that's what I'm signing up for. So essentially I quite like my own company. I can manage on my own or you practical, I would say I'm practical ish, I'm not a great cook and I'm not a bad cook, I'm a mediocre cook. I was a girl guide, actually
stay for a while I'd be a little bit scared of being eaten by animals. But then I wouldn't be scared that somebody was gonna necessarily come in and attack me and anyone else, then I I will have to hold on to an element of optimism. that I am going to one day go home, though I think I will have to even if it's not true, I will have to always think I'm gonna be rescued. Did you try and escape? Do you think, I'd have to fair those seas with ny and m. I was in the girls nautical training corps back in the day. I have got lifesaving badge, but I don't think that will count for much against the the stormy ocean time for your eighth disc to day ruth jones. What have you chosen and why well amy
She is somebody who, I think is an amazing sing. A song writer and I first met her. Actually when I did educating we too, because we used some of her tracks and I got to know her and she sang at my fortieth, which has allowed long time ago, and then it was my fiftieth and she came and sang there as well. My fiftieth was very different from my fortieth. It was sur a sort of sit down three course meal and there were eighty people. and I was surrounded by friends and family people who had no me since I was born friends of mine from you this a I was really surround by those that I love my beautiful stepchildren were there, David was obviously their next to me, and a moment out on my brother's, my sister I was just I remember when amy sang they saw I
member just sitting there and I was held- and I returned came round the room and I'm sorry so I'm really really blast. I'm really blast always can remember this moment, and so this sum will always remind me of that moment no matter what last throw don't seem so you by mass wisley of we god each in this crazy as long as weeds. Again, nothing Amy
moon and back so ruth jones. I'm sending you away to the island with three books, the bible and the complete works of shakespeare, and one of your choosing. Now you asked for the bible in welsh. If I take the welsh language, family bible that my mother has from her father's side of the family. I could then so I, like you, as a way to learn welsh, I can speak a bit of welsh by thought. Well, that would help me improve it so that when I do get rescued, I can have conversations in welsh or be it. It will be about naomi and Joseph and the technical in a coat
lots of biblical references, but still I think it will be a useful tools. Plan, yeah, okay, absolutely it's yours! What about the book of your own? What are you going to take with you? I'm going to go practical and I'd like to take the holly wells film guide, please and I'll. Tell you for why, when I used to do in fights comedy with Julia and rob, we used to do this one little part of the show where we'd have the halle welles film guide and we get the audience to pick a page under film number. What it would do is it would describe the film in three lines and we would improvise a musical based on those three lines. So I thought welp If this book contains all of the storylines all the films ever made, that will keep me going on. Even if I don't know the films I'm reading about, I can imagine them and if I manage fashion, some kind of writing instrument with a a siegel feather under a bit of parchment than I can. Maybe
create my own stories using the film guide as inspiration, perfect yours, if you can have a sri something to make your time on the island more enjoyable. More. Would you like, while for those, people who know me well, they know that a massive fan of the arches I can't imagine life without the arches, so please can I take all of the episodes that have ever been recorded happened well well, I landed on the island, I'm presuming and say no to this. Are you well its controversial request? because it is additional listening material, which obviously goes against the content? However, precedent has been that all nineteen. Ninety four by sir George Christie, chairman of blind and he was given the back catalogue of the arts,
innocently, and so because of that moment in nineteen. Ninety four, then now yours, oh, that's marvelous! Oh, I can't wait. I'm actually looking forward now to being on the desert island. Just so I can go back to episode. One it'll. Take you a good six months to listen to them all the best of british. Thank you. Finally, which of these discs. Would you save above the others? If you are too I'm gonna go go for time as smooth, because I'm also gonna try and fashion a guitar I'm going to teach myself that amazing guitar solo so that when I do get rescued, I can perform it for my brother mark whose a brooding guitarist I can show off to him ruth. thank you very much for letting us here, your desert island discs. It's my absolute pleasure.
Hello. I hope you enjoyed that interview with actor and writer ruth jones desert. Island discs has castaway many actors and writers, including don't french victoria wood and K Miller, who created the series fat friends that introduced and james cordon to each other. James was cast away in twenty twelve, and here he is talking to cut the young about how and why he began thinking about what would eventually become the hit sitcom gavin and the biggest thing about the initial voice, for me was em a realisation that, if things were going to happen for me, I was going to have to try and do those things myself because when, when the play became a huge, it's here in london Almost every day, most of the boys were coming in with firm scripts, tv scripts under their own and that that wasn't really happening for me and because of the way that you look
People on their just I'll, see you like that, and I was in that friends in and that was when I thought well If no one's gonna write these pause for you, then you might just have to do it for yourself. Did you have faith that you had the ability to write the parts? must have an on some level. But I happened to go to a war urging embarrass islands. I was watching this way. Unfold. It was well you, I didn't really know many people, people The spending a really long day together, a lot of people- you don't know each other and they'll start very polite. Talking about the weather and how they got here. The end of the night they'll be doing oops upside your heads and a couple of them might be smoking. You know, and you got caught it bears a journey here of a day and I went back to film fat friends are not all ruth jones
About this idea- and I said I really think it could be a good hour's tv, and that was it really, we just went, we have a go and just see if we can knock something up, so it was born out of that failing of you're gonna have to meet your korea half way here. You can answer ready people that you that you ve got something to say James cordon. next time on desert island discs, you'll be able to hear the shepherd and best selling author james re banks the. before you go. Let me just squeeze in he and tell you about the flick, put costs from BBC radio for each month as a new book set to listen to from people like reese James main martin and Joe licence subscribe to the flip. Put cost on BBC sounds,
Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.