New BBC One drama, In the Club follows six couples who attend a local Parent Craft class during their pregnancy. This week we spoke to one of the cast, Hermione Norris about the importance of antenatal classes, pregnancy tips and why NCT members should watch the series.
The show is based around women meeting at a local Parent Craft class. Have you done any antenatal and/or postnatal courses in real life?
I didn’t. I was very lucky that my sisters had children before me, and my younger sister at the same time as me, so they were my support network because I was doing mad hours filming. Both my sisters did NCT and they’re still friends with their NCT group now. So many things come up around childbirth – breastfeeding, sleepless nights, the pressure it puts on a relationship – and I just think if you can share it – for the men as well – then you should. My character has a touch of the baby blues at first and the baby blues is very common. If you’re in a group, you can share your feelings. I think it’s vital for women to have each other to talk to and to know that these things are very common. We’re meant to do things as community. For me, community is incredibly important.
How important do you think these types antenatal and/or postnatal courses are for parents to be?
I think they’re absolutely vital. It’s very isolating having a baby and I don’t think you are aware, well I wasn’t, of how isolating it can be. Shared experience is something that really breaks down boundaries. It’s an incredibly bonding experience and to have a group all going through the same thing and where women can share their experiences is crucial.
How easy was it to draw on your experiences of pregnancy and having a baby for the role?
You’re always drawing on your own experiences as an actress. I was very glad that I had the experience of having a baby and knew what it was like. It was really nice to revisit it because it’s actually a really special time and it goes very quickly. There’s nothing more precious than a new-born baby, so it was lovely to be around lots of new-born babies, real midwives and the whole process. Kay Mellor (the series’ creator) did a lot of research. We had the midwives from One Born Every Minute who came and talked to us and took us through the stages of labour. The supporting artists in a lot of the scenes were the mothers of the babies that played our respective children. Also Kay has drawn on her own experience of having a baby as a teenager and her friends’ experiences.
Your character has left her husband to start a family with a much younger man, what challenges do you think older mums face in the UK?
You just don’t have the energy levels you did when you were younger. Also, if you have a career and a lot of life lived without a dependent, it’s a big contrast. It’s getting used to that. That’s why I think the NCT is absolutely vital, so that you don’t feel isolated.
Do you think In the Club will help challenge some of the myths surrounding pregnancy and having a baby?
I hope so. Kay is a massive truth-teller and doesn’t pull any punches. She’s made it very believable and very real; it’s not all nice and flowery. I’m sure for people who are expecting, there will be a few surprises. Kay is a great dramatist; she’s got it all in there.
What would be your number one tip for pregnant women?
Just be kind to yourself. Be really gentle. The sleep deprivation, the hormones that you’re going through after you’ve had a baby – find a group of women; don’t be isolated, be with people going through similar experiences. Just try and enjoy it as much as possible and embrace it!
Why should our members watch In the Club?
It’s heart-warming and hopeful. I think it’s full of love. Kay has got a very big heart and I hope it brings warmth into peoples’ homes.
In The Club, Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC One.