Anyone else a bit gutted that In the Club has finished? Any 6-part series just about matches my attention span, so I stepped away from the Gavin & Stacey boxset, turned off the re-runs of DIY SOS and thought I’d give this BBC1 tale of pregnancy and childbirth a go. If you haven’t finished watching it yet, don’t read on (and if you do read on, don’t tell me off for spoilers…you’ve been warned!)
Well, it turned out to be a bit of a guilty pleasure, this. Think of it as a mix of Eastenders, One Born Every Minute and a very dramatic NCT group (I sound like Alan Partridge on one of his pitches to the head of the Beeb); a decent bunch of ladies, 6 OTT life stories, the graphic-ness of childbirth and the scriptwriting of Kay Mellor.
Picture the scene. You sign up for Parentcraft classes….
Diane and Rick (Jill Halfpenny and the very-much-still-a-hottie Will Mellor) have two small mouths to feed already, and after years of struggling to conceive naturally, and months of avoiding scans, they find out about a day before giving birth that they’re having twins. They’re also in a lot of debt. A lot. So hubby decides to don a big coat with a hood (cunning disguise, eh?) barge into a bank and threaten all sorts of nasty things, police catch up with him, wife goes into early labour, stranger delivers one of the twins in the back of his car in the hospital car park and (poorly) baby number 2 is delivered in theatre before being moved to the NICU. The last episode saw Will Mellor in court in a suit (which was nice) and he was delivered his fate (which I won’t spoil, but seriously if you’re still reading this and you still plan to watch the programme, then click here for some photos of cute animals in hats, which you can peruse instead).
Then there’s Jasmin and Dev. Naggy wife Jasmin is 33 weeks pregnant – or, possibly, 37 weeks. I appreciate that’s a bit of a dilemma when you don’t know exactly when you conceived (or indeed who was in the bed with you when it happened). Maybe I’m naïve, but would midwives and consultants not have an inkling as the pregnancy went on that the dates don’t match up? Anyway, she’s determined not to have this baby yet because she desperately hopes it’s a honeymoon baby, and not an office party baby (you get the picture). The stress brings on high blood pressure, preeclampsia and eventually she is induced. All sorts of twists, turns and blood tests later, they’re none the wiser as to who the father is until Mr Office Party reveals that he is haemophilic (an hereditary blood disorder that can be carried down the female line) so one further blood test will determine the paternity once and for all….[cue dramatic music].
Roanna (Hermione Norris) and Simon are your typical boy-meets-girl story – she decides to leave her huge house, successful business and husband for a young art student. She moves out of her mansion into a stereotypical student flat, goes and takes a wad of cash from her husband’s company’s safe (standard,) and has her eye on a picturesque cottage to bring up baby (on the assumption that Boy Wonder is going to talk his way into a cash handout from his wealthy parents). His disapproving mother ends up being Roanna’s birth partner, and they all end up living in the big old house belonging to Simon’s parents. I’d say it was a ‘happy ever after’, but last night’s concluding episode had me shouting “WHAT?!?!” at the TV when it came to light that Roanna obviously has some history with Simon’s Dad! As I say, typical boy-meets-girl…
Kim, Susie & Neil: This one’s tricky, so I’ll keep it quick. Susie and Neil were married, and have a teenage son together, Jude (Daniel Breeze). But now Susie is married to Kim, they wanted a family of their own, and who best to ask for a helping hand (well, not hand…) than ex-husband, Neil. Only as time goes on Kim realises she might actually quite fancy Neil, so there was definitely something going on there. Kim also takes school girl Rosie under her wing after she ends up giving birth to a baby she’s kept under wraps for 9 months. As you can imagine, Susie is pretty miserable and annoyed (she’s allowed to be, I reckon), especially when her ex-husband ends up being the one to help deliver the baby in a birthing pool in his flat, shortly before sharing a cheeky snog with Kim.
Rosie is the school girl, and has kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone – including her father. She keeps schtum about the baby’s father, too, but forms a friendship with Kim and she takes her under her wing. Turns out that Jude, the teenage son, is the Daddy and so everyone’s all under one roof. What a tangled web….
And finally there’s the lovely midwife Vicky who’s pregnant with Doctor Chris Bellingham’s baby. No-one knows they’re together, or that he is the father, and she gives him an ultimatum: marry me before the baby is born or…well….errr…marry me, please. Only he can’t marry her, because he married a total stranger from Gambia for Visa-related reasons back in his skint uni days and this ‘wife’ of his has gone AWOL. So he’s already married and he’s mislaid his wife so can’t make an honest woman of Vicky (yet). Typical.
So that’s the main gist of it. Makes most NCT groups sound rather dull, eh?
Loads of people got a bit ranty on Twitter, sayingt that In the Club was unbelievable and far-fetched, but what’s wrong with that? It never purported to be the next One Born Every Minute (nor do we need another of those, IMO), and if a drama was totally true to life then it would call itself a documentary (and Kay Mellor doesn’t do those).
Despite the many twists and turns, the times I sat here shouting “what?!” at the TV and the number of times I had to press pause to explain to Paul what was going on (he watched episodes 1, 3 and 6 and wondered why things didn’t make total sense), the concluding little monologue was, for me, spot on:
“When you’re pregnant you have this idea of what it’s going to be like when the baby’s born. People tell you things but nothing on God’s earth can prepare you for parenthood. You have this idea that when the baby comes everything will be perfect, when it actual fact life becomes a rollercoaster. You’ll feel the highest highs and the lowest lows, you’ll experience love like you’ve never felt before. But with it comes an irrational anxiety that every single thing you’re doing is wrong. The only one thing that is absolutely certain is that having a baby changes everything and life will never be the same again.”
Now onto my next guilty TV viewing…I’ve found a programme called Choccywoccydoodah: Starstruck where the Brighton-based cake geniuses make immense cakes for celebrities. My TV taste is classy, I’m sure you’ll agree.