She spent years delighting millions of viewers in Gavin & Stacey but now you are much more likely to see Joanna Page on screen as herself.
The actress is planning to give up acting and dedicate her career to TV presenting.
Joanna, 44, who is set to host ITV ’s The Pet Show from Sunday, is hoping the change will make life easier as she prepares to welcome her “surprise” fourth child.
Welsh star Joanna says: “I really enjoy presenting and it works a lot better with a family as you don’t have to go away for weeks on end.”
Together with ex-Emmerdale actor husband James Thornton, she has three children – eight-year-old daughter Eva, and sons Kit, six, and Noah, four.
Joanna says: “For the first six months after I had Eva I was away working filming two shows back to back.
“I had my mum looking after her on set but it was so tough as all I wanted to do was spend time with my new baby.
“Also, I just find presenting a lot more interesting. You’re always doing something different and I love just being myself and chatting to people.
“It can be a lot more fun than sitting alone in a trailer for hours learning lines, then going out to do a scene where you’re pretending to be somebody else.”
But one acting job that would tempt her back is reprising her iconic role of Stacey.
The last time she played the part was for the Christmas special two years ago – and she reveals the rest of the cast including Rob Brydon and Alison Steadman want to do more.
“We all want to know what Smithy said at the end,” says Joanna, who has recently been seen presenting BBC One consumer series Shop Well for Less.
“It’s such a great job. You’re working with people who make you laugh all day long like Rob Brydon. The Christmas special felt like a big reunion.”
Joanna, who studied at RADA, has previously spoken about almost giving up on her drama career after she lost out on the lead role in a West End production of Dirty Dancing in 2006.
A year later, she became a household name alongside Mathew Horne in Gavin & Stacey, where she also starred with writers James Corden and Ruth Jones.
Joanna says if the show made a return it would be “very out of the blue” as was the case when James and Ruth contacted her about the special, which attracted 18 million viewers.
She adds: “None of the rest of the cast ever expected we would do another special. We didn’t have a clue.
“After the third series ended we were told, ‘this is it, there won’t be any more’ so it was such a complete shock.
“I’d expect if it was ever going to be on TV again that getting another phone call out of the blue is what would happen.”
If the same thing were to happen this year, Joanna would be hard-pressed for time as her fourth child is due in early December.
“Finding out I was pregnant was a very welcome and happy surprise,” says Joanna. “As it’s my fourth child, I feel quite relaxed. I’ve gone through my manic phase where I’ve been getting the nursery ready and felt like I’ve had so much energy, but now I’ve hit a wall. All I want to do is lie on the sofa and eat, sleep and watch Netflix.
“I’m trying to get the shopping all sorted so I can have the whole of November just lying on the sofa.”
Joanna says the rest of her children were excited to find out she was expecting. “They were completely and utterly over the moon,” she says. “Eva is well up for helping this time around.
“I really like being in a really big family. It’s always so noisy and loud and it feels like we are one big pack.”
But being an only child, Joanna says at first she was frightened when her children fought with each other. “Growing up, I didn’t have anyone to fight with so I thought it was really serious – but James is one of four and he told me it was normal,” she says.
As well as her large brood, Joanna also has her two pups, springer spaniel Lola and cocker spaniel Bess.
She has been working with pet food brand ACANA to promote their range of high-protein dog treats after her pups gained weight in lockdown.
“The kids are at that age where they wanted to feed the dogs scraps all the time so they put on weight,” she says.
“Eva wants to work with animals when she’s older, so was always asking if she can give them treats such as ice cream and I had to be like, ‘no!’. These are low-calorie treats so she’s using them to train the dogs.”
Image:Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)
Joanna has channelled her own love of animals into her role presenting The Pet Show with Dermot O’Leary.
She says: “I’ve always loved animals and my pets are definitely a part of the family, so presenting The Pet Show has been a complete dream.
“Co-hosting with Dermot was an absolute joy. He’s such a lovely man, so funny and brilliant to work with.”
Joanna says they have met people and their pets from across the country, adding: “It’s not just dogs and cats but exotic creatures like tarantulas and snakes. We met one man who has an aquarium instead of floorboards [in his home] and he swims with the fish – it’s completely and utterly mad!”
There are celebrity appearances including Fawlty Towers star John Cleese. Joanna says: “He goes into a school with his two massive cats and talks to the children. It was like seeing a Monty Python sketch in front of you!
“The bit where celebrities do an assault course with their dogs is great too – it’s been amazing seeing the bond they have with their pets.”
Joanna is working with ACANA High Protein Dog Treats, seeacanapetfoods.co.uk for more info.
The Pet Show airs on Sunday at 5.35pm on ITV.Read More Read More