After six years and nearly thirteen series, by now when it comes to Made in Chelsea, we know what we’re going to get: a titillating melange of regrettable shags between overgrown boarding school rivals, extravagant fancy dress parties that invariably end with a Negroni in someone’s face, and a bit of dog walking on Parson’s Green.
Alas! Not so, for this time around, a new member of the gang is on its way – and I’m not talking about another plummy blonde waif (though, incidentally, we have been gifted a few more of those). A baby – a real human child – is coming to SW6 and E4 as Binky and JP kick off this series with an unexpected pregnancy bombshell, and their hard-partying pals set to rally round them…
Is this a new dawn for Made in Chelsea? Are the tides turning in landlocked Sloane Square? Might this rabble of mollycoddled twenty-somethings finally be forced to – dare I say it – grow up?
“It’s not the same old ‘who kissed who?’, ‘who’s been a bitch?’,” says father-to-be JP. “It’s got more substance – I’ve done all that, it’s nice to feel like the show has a bit more depth.”
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Binky agrees, “I can’t be as much of an idiot as I used to be. It’s another chapter to my life – people watching the show have seen me grow up, and this is the biggest chapter yet. It’s exciting but daunting at the same time.”
Both are keen to stress the responsibility they feel about how their preparation for parenthood is portrayed on-screen.
“There are a lot of young adults out there going through this. Some don’t have a great support network and it’s a very scary experience,” says JP. “Even if you think you’re ready for it, you’re not. And we forget what impact we can have on people’s lives – it’s important to show my and Binks’s journey with this. I get messages from a lot of men saying they’re scared. All I can say is communication with your partner is the most important thing.”
“We’re learning as we go along, and it’s a bit surreal,” adds Binky. “I have loads of people messaging me on Instagram asking for advice, girls that are pregnant and don’t know what to do – it’s amazing but quite scary.
“We are hoping we’ll show the male and female insight into it and how different it is for both of us. But I’m really enjoying filming it – some of it is private, but naturally we’re including lots in the show. I am very maternal, I love baby shopping – this is the best surprise I never knew I wanted.”
The rest of the gang have been forced to adapt, but, Binky says, “The support from our friends has been amazing – I thought the boys would be terrified but they’ve been very sweet, I think they’re getting broody.”
Binky’s best friend Louise says the announcement took her by surprise. “It was a shock but she’s healthy and embracing it. It’s a positive thing – you can never be negative around a baby – but I was a bit annoyed that I first found out on the show… I’d have thought my friend would break the news off-camera, so you’ll see my disbelief – I thought it was a prank – but it’s going to make good television.”
It hasn’t given her ideas, though – she says firmly that she’s quite traditional. “Having a baby is the biggest deal anyone will go through in their life, and I don’t feel ready at 26. Personally don’t think I’d want to have one on the show – I didn’t think anyone ever would – but it’s exciting for all of us as friends. We’re learning so much – I didn’t know anything about babies, but we filmed in a baby shop the other day! And it’s good to see how she’s looking after herself – nurturing herself. She’s altered her lifestyle, and is spending a lot of time sleeping, and indoors.”
“Your dream then, Louise,” interjects her younger brother Sam, who says if his girlfriend floated the idea of a baby “you’d see a Sam-shaped hole in the wall.”
Jamie Laing says it was a “massive surprise” when JP broke the news on-camera to the boys. “But you just say okay, cool, let’s deal with it. Having a child is like a big thing, right? I couldn’t roll with it at the moment… but I’d be the best babysitter. I’ve got two nephews and a younger brother, I’m sick at it.”
“We all had an inkling JP was going to tell us something big,” Proudlock says, “But these things happen for a reason. After the initial shock you welcome it.”
Fittingly, Binky’s ex-boyfriend Alex Mytton’s only response is, “I’ve taken it upon myself to drink for both of them,” while Laing ponders the pair’s decision – controversial to some – to televise the pregnancy.
“It’s tricky – everyone has their own opinion, but JP and Binky have dedicated part of their lives to this TV show, there is the argument that it’s their job… TV is a business, and we want a show that has longevity. In the past few years, programmes like Made in Chelsea have become the new soaps – we just don’t have scripts.”
The new series of Made in Chelsea begins on Monday at 9pm on E4