Sitting on a patterned seat cover in the decrepit Dave’s Coach as it makes its third attempt to scale a steep Barry hill, one phrase comes to mind.

A big Nessa-style: “Oh! What’s occurring?”

And what’s occurring is actually the closest I or anyone else on board will come to starring in Gavin & Stacey.

We are on the original bus from the much-loved BBC comedy – on the back the slogan reads: “We will get you there if we possibly can.”

And we’re touring locations made famous by the show, almost all of which was filmed within a 10-mile radius of Barry, South Wales.

Gavin and Stacey house

It begins at the railway station. Dave’s Coach is late. The driver, not called Dave, hasn’t done this before.

Fans aged from 95 to “Neil the Baby” age travel from as far as Australia to enjoy the ride, based on the series where Gavin from Essex falls for Welsh girl, Stacey.

“We did break down once and had to get towed.

"But we spent the afternoon in the pub, so it was fine,” confides our brilliant guide Carol Townsend, 60 playing Uncle Bryn’s (Rob Brydon) rendition of Islands In The Stream on the stereo.

Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special 2019

As Carol declares: “We have a crackin’ tour for you”, 13 shivering fans climb on board.

That’s not bad for a blustery Monday – tours usually only run in summer, full to capacity.

The trips became a hot ticket after the final series of the programme, which starred Mathew Horne and Joanna Page, aired in 2010.

And they are more popular than ever since a new Christmas Day special was announced by writers and actors James Corden (Smithy) and Ruth Jones (Nessa) earlier this year.

Carol’s been hosting tours for eight years, often with partner Bryan Osbourne, a retired policeman, who has props in a plastic bag.

“She was up at 6.30am watching it,” Bryan, 62, says, as out come character masks. (I’m Dave).

“Gets you in the mood,” lilts Carol, giggling. (Recall the voice of Stacey’s mum, Gwen – Melanie Walters – and you’ll have her.)

“I’ve probably watched them a thousand times. You get sucked in, like a Dyson.” I look blank. “Smithy says that!” she squeals.

Today’s batch includes the McKnight family, from Maidstone, Kent, celebrating 17-year-old Tia’s birthday, Lisa Lacking, 42, in a Sugar Tits top, who is a third-timer from Cheshire, and Lisa McNally, 31, from Derbyshire along with her partner.

We pass the crazy golf where Dave worked in the kiosk, and All Saints church hall, scene of the barn dance.

Barry Island

Carol puts Madness on the stereo. “There’s the Holiday Inn where the cast stayed during filming,” she announces.

We turn into Porthkerry Caravan Park, the setting for Nessa’s caravan.

Civil Servant Claire Bowen, 54, and daughter Ellen, 22, a teaching assistant, have joined from the Rhondda Valley.

“We visited three or four times when they were filming for Christmas,” they chime.

Emily Retter in Barry

“One day was so warm and there were 400 or 500 people on Trinity Street where Gwen’s house is, so James Corden bought everyone ice cream.”

I’m later informed by the real-life Marco (Zeraschi), of Marco’s cafe on Barry Island – yes, it really exists – it was exactly 437 ice-creams.

James who “has not changed a bit” rang him to find an ice-cream van. Then it’s on to St Peter’s Church, where Nessa almost married Dave.

“We once showed up and there was a funeral on,” admits Carol.

She sticks on Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas, hands out a tub of Celebrations and tells me about fans they’ve had on board.

“There was one who’d got James Corden to sign her leg – then got it tattooed,” she says.

The finale is Barry Island fun park, slots and Marco’s. But the highlight is Glenda Kenyon’s home at 47 Trinity Street, aka Gwen’s house.

Glenda, 66, volunteered ahead of the first 2007 series to let it be used for filming.

Glenda Kenyon in her home that doubles as Gwens house in the show

Read More

Showbiz editor's picks

Although the crew bring furniture, she keeps one bedroom exactly as Stacey’s was. And on her stove sits Gwen’s original omelette pan.

She lets fans visit – 28,000 so far – and says she probably knew before the cast a new episode was coming, after Jones showed up at her door in April.

Glenda recalls: “She had her niece with her, said she wanted to show her the house. Then she asked for my phone number. I had my suspicions!”

Heading to Barry Island the sun is setting, and Snow Patrol’s You Can Be Happy plays. The coach feels a bit emotional.

Then: “That’s Morrison’s on the right, where Stacey bought her pregnancy tests,” chirps Carol. Tidy.

*Gavin and Stacey will return to BBC One at 8.30pm on Christmas Day. To book the tour next spring visit britmovietours.com.