Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009
What's occurring with Ruth Jones?
Ruth's tortoise Tom has also found fame after going missing from home
Ruth's tortoise Tom also found fame after going missing from home

Comedy actress and writer Ruth Jones took ten years to become an overnight success with Gavin and Stacey.

Born in Bridgend and brought up in Porthcawl, Ruth had a lean time after drama school until an offer of panto.

Things began to take off when school friend Rob Brydon invited her to join a comedy "improv" group in Bath.

Roles in series like Nighty Night and Little Britain followed before Ruth found success as co-writer of Gavin and Stacey, in which she appears as Nessa.

Gavin and Stacey: Ruth Jones as Nessa, as a living statue in Barry's King Square
Gavin and Stacey: Ruth Jones as Nessa, in Barry's King Square

Ruth admits to being a bit of a show off from an early age.

"When I was five, my uncle bought us a tape recorder and my dad tried to record us kids talking and singing, stuff like that," she said in a BBC interview.

"There's really quite a lot of me in a really Welsh accent going, 'Can I tell a joke? Can I sing a song?', really annoying and brattish."

Outside the family home, Ruth's comic acting talent first came to light as Eliza Doolittle in a school production of My Fair Lady.

She went on to study drama at Warwick University and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, but after graduation it was tough going looking for a break in the theatre.

It reached the point where Ruth considered giving up acting to train as a solicitor until a panto producer in Cardiff replied to her letter asking for work.

"He rang me up and asked if I would be assistant stage manager and a ninja turtle - so I did. It's all been uphill from then," Ruth told the Daily Mirror.

Things started to take off when schoolfriend Rob Brydon invited her to join an "improv" group in Bath which also included Julia Davis, who she later appeared with in the TV comedy series Nighty Night.

Little Britain: Ruth Jones as Myfanwy with Matt Lucas as Dafydd
Little Britain: Ruth Jones as Myfanwy with Matt Lucas as Dafydd
Nighty Night: Ruth Jones as Linda with Julia Davis as Jill
Nighty Night: Ruth Jones as Linda with Julia Davis as Jill

Ruth's other TV credits include Fat Friends, Tales From Pleasure Beach, Saxondale, Human Remains (with Rob Brydon), and most notably Little Britain as barmaid Myfanwy, friend of "the only gay in the village" Dafydd.

But Gavin and Stacey has been her big break - as well as appearing as Stacey's lugubrious best friend Nessa, Ruth co-writes the show with James Corden, who plays Gavin's friend Smithy.

The series - initially shown on the digital channel BBC Three - shows the ups and downs of a young couple torn between their respective homes in Billericay and Barry.

Ruth has duly put the south Wales town on the map, stealing the show as world-weary Nessa with her "what's occurring?" catchphrase.

Gavin and Stacey was a surprise winner at the 2008 Bafta Television Awards, picking up the audience award and best comedy performance award for Corden.

Gavin & Stacey: Ruth Jones as Nessa with James Corden as Smithy
Gavin and Stacey: Ruth Jones as Nessa with James Corden as Smithy

On accepting his prize, Corden paid tribute to his co-writer and co-star: "She is not just the greatest writer and actress, she is the best friend anyone could hope for and is as much Smithy as I am, and I share this with her," he said.

Ruth said she was "absolutely gobsmacked" to pick up the audience award.

"We didn't think at all that we were going to win this ... Gavin and Stacey really seems to have been taken into people's hearts and we're really thrilled about it."

As well as her TV work, you may have spotted Ruth in films such as East Is East, Emma, Very Annie Mary and Heartlands.

Ruth presented a weekly radio show for BBC Radio Wales in autumn 2008 and donned a bonnet for a BBC TV adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel Little Dorrit.

Following the success of a Gavin and Stacey Christmas special broadcast on BBC One in 2008, Ruth and James bowed to public demand to write a third and final series of the hit show.

Meanwhile Ruth teamed up again with Rob Brydon (Stacey's Uncle Bryn) to release their popular rendition of Islands in the Stream as the charity single for Comic Relief 2009, with a little help from Sir Tom Jones and Robin Gibb.

Stars' farewell to Gavin & Stacey
18 Nov 09 |  TV & Radio
In pictures: Gavin and Stacey
15 Jan 09 |  TV & Radio
Comedy hit celebrated in Barry
21 Dec 08 |  Entertainment
TV star's pet makes daring escape
28 Aug 08 |  South east


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific