Actress, writer and producer Ruth Jones became a television favorite with her gentle comedy-romance series "Gavin & Stacey" (BBC, 2007-2010) and later, the sitcom "Stella" (Sky1, 2012- ), both of which established her as a potent comic talent with a knack for strong female characters. Born Ruth Alexandra Elizabeth Jones on September 22, 1966 in the town of Bridgend, South Wales, she was the daughter of an executive for British Steel and a child psychologist. She graduated from Warwick University with a degree in English and theater before studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Jones began appearing in features and on television in the late '90s, enjoying minor roles in films like "Emma" (1996) and "The Theory of Flight" (1998) before earning her first big break in a supporting comic role in the hugely popular multi-cultural comedy "East is East" (1998). The exposure afforded her by the film led to roles on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and a supporting turn in the critically acclaimed drama "Fat Friends" (ITV, 2000-05), which concerned the lives of four individuals enrolled in a weight loss club. The series not only provided Jones with her first taste of television stardom, but also introduced her to actor James Corden, with whom she would create "Gavin & Stacey" and provide her with her first television writing credit. While working on "Fat Friends," Jones also appeared in numerous other programs, most notably as the sympathetic barmaid friend of Matt Lucas' self-loathing (and self-promoting) gay man Daffyd Thomas on the sketch comedy series "Little Britain" (BBC Three/One, 2003-06) and as heavy metal roadie turned exterminator Steve Coogan's ribald girlfriend on "Saxondale" (BBC Two, 2006-07). In 2007, she and Corden co-wrote and co-starred in the well-loved romantic comedy series "Gavin & Stacey," which followed the lives of level-headed Gavin (Mathew Horne) and vivacious Stacey (Joanna Page) during their long-distance romance. Jones played Stacey's earthy best friend, Nessa, whose dislike of Gavin's pal Smithy (Corden) eventually blossomed into romance. The series was a substantial hit for its three-year run, earning numerous awards and even a No. 1 single for Jones and co-star Rob Brydon, who recorded a humorous cover of "Islands in the Stream" in 2009 for the Comic Relief charity. The accolades Jones drew for "Gavin & Stacey" led to a wide array of projects, from highbrow productions of "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" (BBC, 2008) to her own talk show, "Ruth Jones' Christmas Cracker," for BBC Two in 2010. She also earned a major hit with "Hattie" (2011), a biopic of the well-loved comic actress Hattie Jacques which became the most watched program ever aired on BBC Four. Two years later, she returned to regular series work with "Stella" (Sky1, 2012- ), a gentle comedy created by and starring Jones as a single mother with a large and complicated array of family and friends. On January 1, 2014, Jones was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.