Corden’s encounter with grace

Corden (left) with the main characters of Gavin and Stacey.
Corden (left) with the main characters of Gavin and Stacey.

A new pair of headphones has opened up a new world to me on my journeys in and out of London and given me a profoundly moving experience this week.

The BBC podcasts on my phone have been keeping me informed and entertained. The only problem so far is the tendency to start laughing at something no other passenger can hear … and then you look a right prat.

One of the programmes I listened to was an archived recording of James Corden on Desert Island Discs. I love Gavin and Stacey and had a sneaking feeling that Corden may have something interesting to say. How right I was.

He spoke about growing up as part of a Salvation Army  family, attending the meetings each Sunday and playing trumpet badly in the marching band. He wasn’t very complimentary about the other members of the Corp but had clearly been influenced greatly by parents who loved him and offered him unqualified support.

Corden told about a period when he was at his lowest. A combination of fame, acknowledged arrogance, criticism of some of his work left him feeling lost. At that very point his parents appeared and his dad, now a Christian book salesman, said: “I’m going to pray for you” – and did, along with a hug.

For the actor, the tears that followed were keys to a moment of release that still affected him deeply. It was the moment when he realised that he had to ‘grow up’. The emotion in his voice as he told the story showed that simply godly love had been crucial.

Perhaps seeing him on various TV shows it’s still a bit surprising to reflect that he’s had such a close encounter with grace, but his parents’ faith has clearly touched him deeply. He’s clearly an articulate and expressive actor. Maybe the next thing to be transformed is his language.


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