Meet midwife Sacha. A bright and bubbly 23-year-old mum-of-one whose working world has been turned upside down by the arrival of Channel 4’s medical ob-doc One Born Every Minute.
Sacha appears in the show’s opening credits, but tonight’s episode – where she copes with a rather opinionated birthing partner – is when she really shines. Mainly because she completely takes it in her stride, admitting that it was only “a little bit” tricky.
We caught up with her in between tiring nightshifts – “I did three nights at the weekend and then I did a day, so I’m completely all out of sorts at the moment” – to talk One Born.
“I’ve always been a massive fan of One Born and I just couldn’t believe it when I found out they were coming to Bristol,” she told RadioTimes.com. “It was one of my favourite shows so to be part of that was just brilliant. It was amazing. I’m really honoured that they’ve come to our Trust and filmed us.”
Now she’s part of the show herself, her working life is being broadcast to the nation – “every Monday night we are all sat on our sofas with a glass of wine watching our colleagues deliver, which is very surreal” – and even her family are being inspired by the beast that is One Born. Her cousin is thinking of following in her footsteps – “that’s a real honour as well because no one in my family is in the medical profession” – while her nan is “collecting everything” to do with Sacha’s TV debut.
So, were the realities of filming very different from what you expected?
No one really expects to be filmed at work – it’s a little bit odd! It was very surreal going to work knowing that we were being filmed but after the first couple of days we just got used to the cameras being there. It was really nice. The team are great.
It must be nerve-wracking being filmed, though. Especially as a newly-qualified midwife…
The first few shifts I was absolutely terrified because as well as being newly qualified, which is terrifying in itself, you’ve got the added pressure that you’re being filmed. It was scary but after the first couple of days I totally forgot they were there. They just kind of became part of the furniture.
And, of course, there are certain ways of making sure you’re a little more camera ready…
I think anyone who says that they didn’t put an extra bit of lip gloss on is probably lying! You’d go in looking quite glamorous and then by the end of the day you look as hanging as you usually do… We tried but it didn’t work!
So three hospitals and five series on, why do you think One Born is still so popular?
[Birth] is something that’ll be around forever. It’s been going on from the beginning of mankind and it’s something that touches everyone’s life. [One Born] captures such a magical part of life. People just can’t help but love it. It’s just one of those shows… Every delivery is just a miracle.
Do you feel like each episode – the calm tea breaks and the high stress moments – is an accurate portrayal of your day-to-day life?
I think it’s definitely an accurate balance. Previous series they’ve shown a lot of time eating cakes, but so far they’ve not shown any of us eating too much cake which I’m pleased about…
So I’m assuming that means there a lot of behind-the-scenes cake eating that we’re not seeing?
While One Born was filming we did a cake competition which I’m sure that they will have great delight in showing…
And a whole lot more cuddling time with the newborns?
Oh yeah. I’ve got to have my cuddles. It definitely makes you broody as well being around such beautiful babies all the time!
The cuddling must be a big draw when you’re thinking about becoming a midwife…
I was always the mummy of my little group of friends growing up. I was always making sure everyone was okay. If we went out on the town I was always the one to make sure everyone got home safe, so I think I was just born with that maternal instinct.
I’ve been training and practicing for five years in total now, but I still see pregnant women and I just think ‘You are so amazing. You are growing this baby. You’re not even thinking about it and it’s just happening’. Women are just absolutely amazing beings. It’s a real privilege to be part of that experience with them.
The nation is a little bit midwife obsessed at the moment. As well as One Born, we’ve just watched the third series of BBC1 period drama Call the Midwife…
I think Call the Midwife is brilliant. It’s a real reflection of how midwifery was… It’s amazing to think it wasn’t that long ago that that was actually happening on our streets. It’s a great series.
Are you glad technology has moved on from the 1950s?
I think midwives back in those days really deserve a pat on the back because they’ve clearly had to use much more initiative than perhaps we do nowadays because we’ve got the use of technology they didn’t have.
So you’d happily swap your scrubs for a little red cardigan?
Definitely. I’d have loved to have been a midwife back then. It would have been a challenge but it would have been brilliant.
And the bike?
To be honest I’m no good on a bike but if I got some practice in I reckon I’d be okay…
One Born Every Minute is on Mondays at 9:00pm on Channel 4.