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Why is One Born Every Minute so popular?

Britain's appetite for childbirth shows no signs of waning, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

Published: Tuesday, 25th February 2014 at 2:16 pm

One Born Every Minute. Channel 4's documentary where "new lives begin and others change forever."


The ob-doc, set in bustling maternity units in the UK, is into its fifth series now. But Britain's appetite for childbirth shows no signs of waning.

And it's no surprise, really. Channel 4, who pride themselves on shining a light on anything from real-life first dates to the inner workings of a South London chicken shop, have struck gold when it comes to One Born.

As well as featuring three sure-fire winners when it comes to coaxing viewers on to their couches - cute babies, comedy and cake - the show, which this series has headed down to the West Country, balances a clever mix of voyeurism and sentimentality. That, and the show's seamless and sympathetic editing, means it is documentary making at its very best.

Although, while millions (2.32, to be precise) of us recognise its unique charm, plenty of people are put off by the promise of dilations, contractions and epidurals.

And they shouldn't be. There is more to One Born than pain and pethidine. Each episode, detailing the indescribable move from the late stages of pregnancy to becoming a parent to a brand new baby, is an exercise in good storytelling – and each features an array of real, engaging and entertaining characters.

There’s no need for floral dresses and rose tinted spectacles a la Call the Midwife. Each hour of real and human experience contains more drama than an instalment of Downton Abbey, more laughs than an episode of Mock the Week. It's more emotional than any Nicholas Sparks tearjerker and more gripping than the latest Hollywood thriller.

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The real exchanges between the buoyant midwives and their increasingly vocal patients and, more often than not hilarious, conversations between mums- and dads-to-be (from anger, laughter, elation, frustration and fear to gentle mocking about the fact dad's had to trade in his R8 for a family car...) are improbably entertaining.

And even if you’re sure it’s not your cup of tea, I challenge you not to be moved.

One Born Every Minute continues on Mondays at 9:00pm on Channel 4.



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