Vanessa Shanessa "Nessa" Jenkins (b. 1963) is a fictional character in the television series Gavin & Stacey. She is portrayed by Ruth Jones.

Nessa is Stacey's best friend also from Barry. She works in the arcade on Barry Island, a job which she despises in Barry Island's current state. She has worked in places as far-flung as Peru, Namibia, Mumbai and Egypt. Nessa's age is unknown, though in the Gavin & Stacey book, it is mentioned that she worked as a driver for Gladys Knight and the Pips in 1979, which suggests she must be well into her 40s at the start of the series.

Characterisation[edit | edit source]

Nessa is Stacey's best friend, also from Barry. She discovers she is pregnant in the fourth episode of Series 1 and it is later revealed that Smithy became the father the second time they were intimate at Pam and Mick's house. She speaks fluent Italian and Welsh, has several tattoos, most notably a large red dragon on her right upper arm. She is a chain smoker (except during her pregnancy) and was one of the original members of All Saints (but didn't get along with Shaznay). She works at the Barry Island Amusement Arcades or "The Slots". Nessa regularly recalls strange and often lewd experiences with celebrities. She gives birth to baby Neil in the finale of Series 2 and becomes engaged to Dave Coaches in the 2008 Christmas special. In the series finale, Smithy declares his feelings for Nessa at her wedding, and Dave accepts that the feelings he and Nessa share are not as strong as hers and Smithy's. Nessa's age is unknown throughout the show even to Stacey. She has slept with Gavin's friend Smithy several times.

Nessa has a distinctive way of talking and uses several catchphrases throughout the series including "Ohhhh", "Tidy", "Fair play", "Genuine", "Truth be told", "Immense", "I'm not going to lie to you," "Alright?" and "What's occurring?", "Crackin!".

She is a constant source of surprise in the show; for example, she used to be a truck driver for Eddie Stobart and was once the nanny for Richard and Judy. Despite her engagement to Dave in Series 3, she doesn't go through with the ceremony and agrees to raise her son Neil with the father, Smithy.

Nessa with her best friend, Stacey, in Gwen's kitchen, Series 1.

In the third series, it was discovered that she is an Aston Villa fan. She has a jet black bob-style hair and wears Gothic style make up. She is serious, ongoing and surprisingly intelligent at times. She has had a number of interesting occupations including being a BBC radio producer, a roadie for a major band, and driving trucks for Eddie Stobart (who gave her two trucks to keep when she left,) and a running feature of the programme is her wide range of impressive occupations, abilities (apart from speaking fluent Italian she is an excellent ten-pin bowler) and acquaintance or relationships with various famous people. The reaction of those around her to mention of these invariably suggests that they are factual rather than a fantasy, despite the rather incongruous fact that she now works as a cashier at an amusement arcade in Barry.

She speaks fluent Italian and some Welsh, has several tattoos, is a chain smoker (until her pregnancy) and was one of the original members of All Saints (but didn't get along with Shaznay). She works at the Barry Island Amusement Arcades or "The Slots". Nessa regularly recalls strange and often lewd experiences with celebrities (John Prescott is mentioned several times, as is Dodi Al-Fayed), and to a lesser extent she talks about various life experiences she has had such as travelling the world on a cruise ship, briefly waking up after her first marriage with an unspecified Pip (of Gladys Knight fame) and dealing with the death of her second husband, Clive, (who was executed by firing squad for drug running after she gave evidence against him). She apparently once accepted a marriage proposal from an Englishman who later died while trying to fake his own death. It is revealed in Series 1 that she enjoys BDSM; she is seen buying a dominatrix-style outfit at a wedding fair, claiming "I don't need another whip". Nessa is shown to be a generally carefree person, approaching sensitive issues with a practical, no-nonsense attitude. She's stoical and grimly accepting of life, but she's also loyal and protective of those she loves - especially Stacey, Bryn and Gwen. Blunt and to-the-point, Nessa answers any questions in complete honesty. She invests in stocks and shares, enjoys knitting, collects flags, and is an exceptionally talented ten-pin bowler.

Character History[edit | edit source]

Nessa with Smithy, Series 1.

Series One[edit | edit source]

In the first episode, she and Smithy spend the night together in Gavin and Stacey's hotel room bathroom, to which she performs a sex act that Smithy is horrified by involving a toilet brush. After another sexual encounter with Smithy in the garden of Pam and Mick, she discovers she is pregnant towards the end of the series and it is revealed that he is the father.

Series Two[edit | edit source]

She gives birth to Neil in the last episode of Series 2. Nessa becomes engaged to Dave Coaches, her boyfriend, in the 2008 Christmas Special.

Series Three[edit | edit source]

Nessa with Stacey.

In the series finale, Smithy declares his feelings for Nessa at her wedding, and Dave accepts that the feelings he and Nessa share are not as strong as hers and Smithy's. Nessa's age is unknown throughout the show even to Stacey. To date she has slept with Gavin's best friend Smithy 4 times. In the third series, it was discovered that she is an Aston Villa fan. At the end of the last episode it is ambiguous whether or not she is in a relationship with Smithy, but it is made clear that they have a romantic connection and they are both raising Neil together.

2019 Christmas Special[edit | edit source]

By 2019, Nessa is living with Bryn and her 12-year-old son Neil "the Baby" across the road from Gwen, and Gavin and Stacey. She jointly raises her son with Smithy who still lives in Billericay. Nessa reveals to Stacey that she and Smithy have been sleeping with each other on and off for the last 10 years. When Smithy gets a girlfriend, he stops sleeping with Nessa and she confesses that despite having sex with others, she can never find the same connection as what she had with him. Nessa gifts the Wests and Shipmans hot and cold taps for Christmas, and goes carolling with her son Neil three times that Christmas season, starting in November. Despite his having a girlfriend, she sleeps with Smithy on Christmas Eve, and they wake up in the same bed. When Neil comes in to wake his mum up he seems non-plussed by the discovery of his mother and father in the same bed, and simply says "Merry Christmas Dad!". She is shown to have a good relationship with her son Neil, including calmly sharing an orange with him while his father is seen freaking out about his new girlfriend. Nessa proposes to Smithy at the end of the special. Smithy's answer is not revealed during the episode.

Relationships[edit | edit source]

Family[edit | edit source]

Her mum is not mentioned except for the fact that Nessa had to watch her get married 9 times, to 3 different men. However, she does say in the finale that she sees Gwen as her mum, despite not being blood-related.

Her Dad is called Neil Jenkins and he appears in two episodes. She names her baby Neil after him, as well as Smithy naming him Neil after himself.

Significant Others[edit | edit source]

Dave claims to have had the best night of his life with Nessa before the series started.

She and Smithy have an on-and-off relationship. Both have been proposed to by the other.

Clive - Second Husband

Jared - Fiancé who died 'whilst faking his own death'

Dodi Fyed - At work illicit affair.

John Prescott - Affair whilst he was Deputy Prime Minister

Friends[edit | edit source]

Occupations [edit | edit source]

  • Bouncer - Night Club Door Security - Cardiff
    • Colleagues Nev & Kev
    • Dates Unknown
  • Cruise Ship Staff - Worldwide
    • Dates Unknown
  • Harrods - London - Position Unknown
    • Dates Unknonwn
  • Secondhand City - Cardif - Position Unknown
    • Dates Unknown
  • International Drugs Smuggler with 2nd husband Clive
    • Crack Cocaine
    • Dates Unknown
  • Personal Assistant to Om Puri - Mumbai
    • Dates Unknown - 3 Months all told
  • Part time Stock Market Trader - Barry
    • Dates Unknown
  • Driver - Gladys Knight & the Pips - USA
    • 1979 - Dates Unknown
  • News Producer - BBC London
    • Colleagues Kate Adie
    • Dates Unknown
  • Driver - The Who - Worldwide Tour 
    • Unknown - March 1989
  • HGV Driver - Eddie Stobart - UK
    • March 1989 - September 1990
  • Singer & Performer - All Saints Original Line Up
    • April - June 1993
  • Nanny - Richard and Judy - London
    • October 1993 - March 1997
  • Window Sex worker (Mars bar) -  Amsterdam
    • 1997
  • Goal Keeping Coach - Coventry City FC
    • June 2003 - January 2006
  • Living Statue Performer - Barry Island
    • April 2007 - October 2007
  • Santa Impersonator - Barry Island
    • December 2008
  • Trumpet player - Jools Holland & the Big Band
    • Dates Unknown
  • Arcade Cashier/Manager - Barry Island Arcades
    • Unknown - Present
  • Tarot Card & Crystal Ball Reader of Fortunes - Barry Caravan Site
    • Summer 2009
  • Tattoo Artist - Barry Island
    • 2019 - Present
  • Professional Carol Singer - Barry 
    • 6th of November 2019 - Present
  • Royal National Lifeboat Institution -Barry Dock Lifeboat Station
    • Unknown - Present
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