In the Club’s Hermione Norris, Jill Halfpenny and Katherine Parkinson on their real-life pregnancies

Kay Mellor's new BBC1 drama follows six mothers-to-be. Here her cast tell how they drew on their own experiences to portray impending parenthood...

If you like Call the Midwife, you’ll love BBC1’s new drama In The Club. Based around a group of pregnant women who meet at parentcraft classes, the six-part series from The Syndicate and Fat Friends creator Kay Mellor charts the ups and downs of imminent – and actual – birth. But that’s not all (this is BBC drama, after all…) The six mothers-to-be find themselves faced with extra hardships thanks to acrimonious divorces, financial crises and teenage pregnancies. And that’s before they even welcome their little bundles of joy. 


Starring Hermione Norris, Katherine Parkinson and Jill Halfpenny as three of the expecting parents – alongside Will Mellor, Tara Fitzgerald and Sacha Dhawan – In The Club is based on Mellor’s own experiences as a young mum aged just 16 “Nobody found out I was pregnant until I was five months,” she tells “I was terrified because of the inevitability of it – of this baby coming out of somewhere private and personal to you. When you’re 16 that’s a terrifying thought. I remember thinking ‘I’m going to throw myself down a quarry’ because I was so frightened.” 

Mellor used her own experiences when creating one of her characters, Rosie (played by Hannah Midgeley), but she isn’t the only one to revisit her pregnant days during filming. caught up with the drama’s female cast to hear all about their own highs and lows of the maternity ward… 

KATHERINE PARKINSON plays Kim – expecting a baby with her partner Susie (Tara Fitzgerald) but harbouring feelings for the biological father Neil (Jonathan Kerrigan). She has one daughter and is pregnant with her second child.

Does filming In the Club bring back good or bad memories? 

My character has the birth I wanted and didn’t manage to have. 

Did you go to parentcraft classes when you were pregnant? 

I did and I didn’t have such nice women. It was a very small group and they were bankers – that’s all I have to say – but I found it very informative and empowering. Of course, you end up having none of the information you actually need but I used to sit there getting very excited about the fact I was pregnant while they were talking about birthing positions. 

How were your own experiences of giving birth? 

I had a good birth – she was back-to-back but I felt very triumphant because I think back-to-back labours can often end in intervention so I was very pleased that didn’t happen. It was in a very over-subscribed, grimy Lewisham hospital – they’re doing their best but they’ve hardly got any midwives on the post-natal ward and it’s a disaster. 

You gave birth in 2012 – did you bring your daughter on set with you? 

Not on set but I haven’t spent a night away from her. She’s with me in Leeds with my husband or parents taking it in turns to take her to the museum she’s obsessed with. There are some Wendy houses on the second floor and she likes to play with the cake pieces.

JILL HALFPENNY plays Diane who finds out she’s expecting twins just as her husband Rick (Will Mellor) makes a life-changing decision in an attempt to reverse their financial woes. She has one son.

What are your experiences of being pregnant? 

When you’re pregnant and you don’t talk to other people you think, ‘Am I a bit mental? Am I going mad?’ And then you talk to others and realise these are normal feelings.

Is the bump you’re sporting for In The Club bringing back bad memories? 

Yes, of dragging yourself about when you’ve had the phase of feeling all beautiful and blooming. This is not that phase.

Was your son Harvey a good birthing experience or a bad one?

My labour was quite traumatic with Harvey. It sounds ridiculous now in the aftermath because of course it is but you don’t want to think that birth is gong to be traumatic. You think it’s going to be a beautiful thing and for some women it is. I remember thinking, ‘Why am I in an ambulance? Why am I being transferred to a different hospital? This is not how it was going to happen in my head.’ And when I came round I felt very emotional like I’d been through something that was difficult to compute. 

How did having Harvey change you?

It sounds very cliché but it’s just the idea of having somebody else to think about. Now when I get offered a job I have to contemplate where it’s filming, what Harvey’s dad is doing, can we make it work? As an actor, it’s quite a selfish way to live and you enjoy that aspect – then a child comes along and the guilt is too much to bear. 

HERMIONE NORRIS plays Roanna – a soon-to-be-divorced 40-something expecting a baby with her young lover – and penniless artist – Simon (Luke Thompson). She has one son and one daughter.

What was your own experience of childbirth?

Magical. Wonderful. It’s the most extraordinary thing giving birth. 

Did you go to parentcraft classes when you were pregnant? 

I couldn’t, I was working. I had my sister who lived on the same road and was having children at the same time so I was really lucky because it’s incredibly isolating when you have a baby. 

So you had plenty of advice at hand when it came to motherhood? 

Yes, I was very lucky, actually. Just silly things like before you put them in the bath, lay everything out – just really practical things. 

What was the most surprising part of becoming a mother?

Nothing can prepare you for the love that you feel for your child. Nothing can prepare you for how hard it is, nothing can prepare you for that.

What are the main differences between your life before motherhood and after? 

If there was a challenge, I’d be up for it – bungee jumps, white water rafting – and now it’s a no. As a mother, you see danger everywhere. You’re constantly pre-empting everything. 


In the Club begins tonight at 9:00pm on BBC1