Stephen Mangan: Birthday is one of the best things I’ve ever done

The Episodes star said playing a pregnant man in the Sky Arts drama ranks among his best work – but jokes that his wife isn't quite as convinced

Episodes star Stephen Mangan says playing a pregnant man in TV drama Birthday is one of his best ever performances – but jokes that his wife and sons are still getting used to the bizarre pictures.

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The actor is set to star in the Sky Arts drama, an adaptation of the 2012 Royal Court play Birthday written by Joe Penhall.

Mangan plays Ed, a man who goes through a caesarean birth, and he joked that his family had been disturbed by the first cast shots that appeared online.

“I speak for all pregnant men when I say that it’s a very difficult time in one’s life,” he said at the Radio Times Covers’ Party, “and my two boys – who are seven and four– and my wife are finding it hard to see pictures of me pregnant all over the internet.”

However, he added he was very proud the play was making the transition to television.

“We did the play at the Royal Court. I gave birth to 64 children – show me a woman who’s done that! And now we’ve filmed it for Sky Arts, and it’s amazing.

“When I first heard about the project I thought it was the worst idea in the world, but it’s actually really special I think,” he added. “It’s moving, quite brutal, funny, and I’m really proud of it. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Anna Maxwell Martin (Death Comes to Pemberley) plays Mangan’s wife Lisa, with Sherlock star Louise Brearley also appearing in the TV adaptation.

Mangan’s wife, Louise Delamere, is producing the drama for Sky. “My wife is disgusted,” Mangan joked. “She actually gave birth to two children, and I’m the one getting all the glory. She’s furious.”

Mangan joins a proud tradition of pregnant men on screen, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who laboured for love in 1994 comedy Junior.

“Arnie rang me straight after, just about clothing, oils and stretch marks and stuff. I’m very grateful for that. He’s been a real brother to me,” Mangan said.

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Reckon you can live up to this Stephen?