The simple wonder of childbirth
Channel 4’s sweet and soppy One Born Every Minute provides a joyous riposte to the procreation police.
You don’t know whether to applaud the chutzpah or scold the laziness of the person who dreamt up One Born Every Minute. As Channel 4 continues its scramble to find a replacement for ailing cash-cow Big Brother, the concept does have the faint whiff of desperation. ‘Erm, babies! Everyone loves babies! Let’s show real babies being born!’
You don’t have to subscribe to Christopher Booker’s claim that all of literature can be boiled down to seven basic plots to at least concede that the best ideas are deceptively simple. As every soap-opera hack knows, introducing a pregnancy or birth is a quick method of spicing up any stale storyline, even if, as Five broadcast a live birth in 2006.
Yet it is difficult not to be moved by One Born Every Minute. It is filmed in the maternity unit of a general hospital in Southampton, and has the rather simple premise of following mothers-to-be through their births, interspersed with occasional talking-head interviews with the patients and the maternity staff. A normal hour-long edition largely involves women screaming in agony, women lolling around dosed up on epidurals, and women waiting around anxiously for something to happen. The fathers, or birthing partners, either sit around looking useless, or sometimes say irritating things. As
The show’s website reads like a tub-thumping piece of Stalinist propaganda on behalf of the Ovum Office: 264 every minute worldwide, folks! If you think watching birth after birth on TV might get repetitive, you might be surprised at how mesmerising the
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Hello, Tristan Evans of Vancouver – in your face, Dave. Hello, Rory Samuel James Walter of Marlborough, NZ…
David Bowden is spiked’s TV columnist.
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