Emma Willis: Delivering Babies

I suppose it was only a matter of time until TV got round to celebrity midwifery – the only real surprise here is they didn’t call it I’m A Baby, Get Me Out of Here!

Emma Willis isn’t literally delivering babies, expectant mothers in the Essex area will be relieved to hear. This new series actually follows the TV presenter and mum-of-three as she spends 10 weeks working as a maternity care assistant at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

Even so, it’s pretty full-on: 13-hour shifts, 40-hour weeks, with duties ranging from collecting sick bowls to wiping down the operating theatre. Jackie, the hospital’s no-nonsense head of midwifery, promises ‘no special treatment’, and by the end of the first week, Willis is dead on her feet.She also has some limited involvement at the… business end of things, though her assertion that ‘you just have to dive in head first’ could possibly have been better phrased.

The UK currently has an acute shortage of midwives, so perhaps drafting in ones from the telly is the way forward. Or maybe it’s just repaying the NHS for all the time Dr Ranj Singh is spending on Strictly (do you think they can bleep him on the dancefloor?).

Willis is a calm and empathetic presence, even when the most practical thing she can offer is a glass of water or a back rub. Scrubbed in in theatre watching one baby being delivered by c-section seven weeks prematurely, she declares: ‘I absolutely love being in here. I think I’ve found a new vocation.’ Later, she adds: ‘I think I’m wasting my time in telly.’ On The Voice? The very idea!

What shines through more than anything is Willis’ admiration for her new colleagues (midwives, she says, are incredible people ‘looking after two human beings at once’), and how quickly she adapts to life on the maternity wards. Then again, when you’ve presented 11 series of Celebrity Big Brother, I guess spending the day surrounded by screaming babies is no big deal.


TV extra:

 

The Cry

BBC One has been enjoying a real purple patch on Sunday evenings, with Bodyguard, The Cry and the re-booted Doctor Who all triumphing in the ratings. Of the three, it’s The Cry that’s most likely to bring home the silverware: Jenna Coleman, in particular, deserves all the prizes for her devastating portrait of a young mother torn apart by grief, in a harrowing but gripping drama that slowly surrendered its secrets as assuredly as any thriller.

 

Blue Peter: Big 60thBirthday

Blue Peter’s diamond birthday celebrations – with 25 former presenters returning to show us what they’d made earlier – left me quite weepy with nostalgia. That said, the current team of Lindsey Russell and Radzi Chinyanganya is among the best in the show’s long history. In an age when it can be a struggle to drag kids away from the wicked clutches of YouTube and Fortnite, the good ship BP still flies the flag for quality children’s TV. Treasure it.



Published in Waitrose Weekend, October 25 2018

(c) Waitrose Weekend