Posts Tagged ‘Pramface’

May-December romances have no doubt existed throughout human history. Having just finished the enjoyable BBC One series Me and Mrs. Jones  (despite being forced to watch it on YouTube with some very distracting Spanish subtitles), I began to wonder what I would do if I found myself in Mrs. Jones’ shoes.

The cast of the BBC One sitcom Me and Mrs. Jones

The cast of the BBC One sitcom Me and Mrs. Jones

Before we embark on the predicament put forward in the title, let’s define what we mean by “cougar.” According to About.com, a cougar is  “a woman 40 years of age or older who exclusively pursues very young men …typically those almost young enough to be their sons.”

Here’s a prime example of a real life cougar/cub relationship:

Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson (46) and her her husband actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson (23)

Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson (46) and her husband actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson (23)

However, I prefer to look at examples of the way British television has approached the older woman/younger man scenario because, as we all know, TV imitates life.

Francesca Annis and Robson Green in the ITV miniseries Reckless

Francesca Annis and Robson Green in the ITV miniseries Reckless

In Reckless (1997), young physician Owen Springer (Green) changes jobs to be near his ailing father in Manchester only to fall for a much older woman who also happens to be his boss’ wife. A lot of wooing on Owen’s part has to take place before Anna (Annis) is convinced to take a chance on this unorthodox relationship. Is Anna a cougar if she doesn’t initiate the relationship?  I’m not aware of the official cougar guidelines, but the chemistry between the pair would seem to contradict her claims of disinterest.

As a couple, River and the Doctor have the appearance of a cougar situation though Whovians know it’s the Doctor who’s actually robbed the cradle.  Nevertheless, there’s no denying River does have that assertive cougar vibe about her…


The sitcom Pramface presents us with a less an age difference than a stage of life difference. Jamie (Sean Verey) and Laura (Scarlett Alice Johnson) meet at a drunken blowout at the end of school exams.  Jamie looses his virginity and Laura gets pregnant in the process.  When the two meet afterwards so that Laura can break the news, she is appalled to find that the father of her child is only sixteen years old while she’s eighteen and ready to go off to university.


Unfortunately no clear pattern has emerged so let’s go back to the dilemma at hand. Gemma Jones (Sarah Alexander), frazzled mother of a grown son and set of school age twins, hasn’t had the time or energy for any romance in her life since she and her mildly insensitive husband Jason (Neil Morrissey) broke up.  Then suddenly out of nowhere, Gemma is faced with a choice of two eligible men:


Tom (Nathaniel Parker) is a well-off single father who the other moms at school consider to be “the catch of the playground.” He has a precocious daughter whom he spoils and fancies himself a renaissance man – wine connoisseur, gourmet cook, martial artist. Good-natured, if not a bit neurotic, and really quite sweet once you get past the goofiness, Tom is trying to move on after his cruel wife left him for another man.

Gemma’s other option is a trickier proposition:


Gemma’s son Alfie (Jonathan Bailey) returns from his gap year trip abroad bringing a new mate Billy(Robert Sheehan) home with him – apparently Billy saved Alfie’s life at some point of the journey.  Whenever in his presence, Gemma becomes as giddy as a teenage girl.  And after overhearing Billy talk her daughter out of her stage fright, she is moved to kiss him in the school hallway out of appreciation and, let’s face it, lust.  A mature young man, Billy gently urges Gemma to talk about her feelings and their obvious attraction for one another without much success.

In the course of six episodes, Gemma tries her level best to feel some attraction for Tom while simultaneously attempting to deter Billy’s appealing advances. It all leads up to the final episode of the series wherein Gemma must make her decision, a mini break in a luxury yurt with Tom or a picnic under the stars with Billy.

You may well be asking yourself at this point, for the love of God, who does she choose?  For those of you who may be worried about spoilers there’s really no need to worry since I can’t spoil this much more than the BBC already did. As Gemma sits at the intersection of her life, deciding whether to turn towards a safe, socially acceptable relationship or an exciting adventure that just might turn her family against her, the screen goes to black.  It’s a cliffhanger ending which turns out to be a bloody forever cliffhanger because Me and Mrs. Jones wasn’t commissioned for a second season!

Since the BBC deprived us of a resolution to Gemma’s romantic entanglements, I feel I’m left with no option than to make the choice for her. And this type of decision requires a good old assessment of pros and cons.

There’s not really much to discuss when it comes to Tom.  He and Gemma are at similar stages in their lives – divorced, children, financial responsibilities, etc. In their situation, it’s merely a question of compatibility.  Gemma is a disorganized slob while Tom is a zen neat freak.  Is there any attraction there?  With Tom still in love with his ex and Gemma just not feeling it, I think it would take a lot of work to generate more than an affectionate friendship.

Me and Mrs. Jones' Tom (Nathaniel Parker)

Me and Mrs. Jones’ Tom (Nathaniel Parker)

Billy, on the other hand, is more accepting of Gemma’s imperfections and even loves her for them. Roadblocks for Billy include that fact that he is Alfie’s friend and that could be a very sore point between mother and son  if he and Gemma start dating. Although if you ask me Alfie is a bit of a self-absorbed twat so losing his respect for a while probably wouldn’t be a horrible loss.


Alfie (Jonathan Bailey) upset at witnessing the snog between his mother and his friend.

Alfie (Jonathan Bailey) upset at witnessing the snog between his mother and his friend.

Billy is just beginning his career as a chef so he must live simply as young people generally do. How long will it take before the charm of spending the night with Billy at his bedsit rubs off?  And finally, though Billy has a wonderful rapport with Gemma’s daughters, is he prepared to act as a step-father at such a young age?

So what would you do? If I was Gemma, a character in a TV show, I’d unleash my inner cougar and take my chances with Billy, a truly lovely guy inside and out.

Billy (Robert Sheehan) waiting for Gemma's decision

Billy (Robert Sheehan) waiting for Gemma’s decision


However, in the real world it would take a very special man indeed to take on the complications that come with a ready-made family and a woman who’s liable to feel insecure about her looks when compared to women her boyfriend’s age. Remember Ashton and Demi?

Idealistically I’d pass on both suitors and wait for a guy my own age like Tom who makes me feel like Billy does.  I’m sure it would be worth the wait. Realistically, there probably is no such man (besides my husband of course;)

Read Full Post »

Doubtless you are aware that very soon this man will become a grandfather for the first time.

Granddad Charles image credit telegraph.co.uk

Granddad Charles image credit telegraph.co.uk


Very exciting news indeed, but the prospect of a new child round the palace can be daunting. So I went out and found a few examples of  telly granddads who could offer some practical advice and encouragement for the many stages of grandparenting.


No nappies ? No problem – Pramface



Difficult questions call for distraction – Outnumbered



Cash beats “fun” every time –In with the Flynns



No matter where they’ve been or how old they are, always welcome them home with  a big hug – Doctor Who

Read Full Post »

Without getting too graphic I think we can safely assume that the manner in which babies are conceived is exactly the same on either side of the pond.  Unless of course, you’re having sex in the TARDIS…

Much more accurate than peeing on a stick.

If you are time traveling during intercourse, then you will be a likely candidate for that program where none of the women knew they were pregnant until they make an urgent trip to the bathroom and find they’ve delivered a full-term infant into the toilet. But that is only a very small percentage of us so let’s crack on.

In general, conception can be categorized as a human process not dictated by cultural differences. Once an embryo has been established, the British and the Americans again differ very little in regards to the order in which pregnancy progresses: mother-to-be throws up a lot, gets fat, buys baby name books, shows her ultrasound scans around, and of course every man’s favorite, the hormone induced mood swings which baffle and quite frankly frighten the father-to-be.  In addition, if you are a resident of tv land, it is required that the child be born in some unusual locale like a pub (Louisa and Doc Martin’s son) or at your father-in-law’s CBE party (Howard and Mel’s daughter on Worst Week of My Life).

Of course one can’t forget the classic frenzied rush to the hospital…

It would appear that teen pregnancy is also an Anglo-American phenomenon. As the cautionary tale, Pramface shows us, one night of drunken partying mixed with teen-age hormones can detour your life in the blink of an eye.

Clever and at times heartwarming as it can be, Pramface takes on the issues faced by teenage parents, their families and friends.  Yes, Laura is a spoiled college-bound girl looking forward to escaping her embattled, unhappy parents and Jamie is a sweet, but directionless 16-year-old boy, but together they lurch their way towards accepting their responsibilities and become friends in the process.  It may not be “reality”, but I’d take Pramface over this any day.

So if pregnancy is a fairly universal condition, what about the childbirth experience?  Here is where the two countries start to diverge. There’s still the pushing and screaming and crying, but on British television shows at least, the woman in labor is far more likely to be attended by a midwife than mothers in the US might be.

Of course I’ve done all this so I could have a reason to mention Call the Midwife. I’d heard about this show at Christmas time and was chomping at the bit wondering when we’d have the chance to see it here. (Yes, this truly is my life.) Well, those wonderful people with such good taste at PBS got it to us in less than a year from its UK broadcast date and I’m very happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode on Sunday night.

All midwives are issued a medical bag and, you guessed it, a bike.

Set in East London in 1957, it follows new midwife, Jenny Lee through her first on-the-job experiences. She learns not only how to put her training to use but, while living and working with an order of midwife nuns, Jenny is quickly exposed to a world very different from her sheltered, more privileged upbringing.  The only thing that disappointed me about the first episode was the absence of Miranda Hart, but I’ve since seen that she will make her rather awkard entrance in next week’s episode.

Their equipment may be antiquated and perhaps a little scary, but the midwives of Nonnatus House do what women have been doing for all of human history – assisting other women in delivering their babies.  While the popularity of midwifery in the US is slowly on the rise, it’s still considered a slightly hippy-dippy, alternative medicine sort of thing.  In the UK, it appears it never went out of fashion.  British midwives deliver babies in home settings, but they also play a prominent role in hospital births, taking on the lower risk deliveries while the obstetricians concentrate on the more complex cases.  Midwives may actually visit you at home for your antenatal (prenatal, to us Yanks) care.  Most are employed by the National Health Service and there is a critical shortage of practicing midwives at the present time.  My readers in the UK, feel free to correct me if my internet research has led me astray.

I first became aware of the role of modern-day midwives by watching William and Mary.  Mary (Julie Graham) worked not only as an NHS midwife but, after butting heads with her superiors, also tried her hand at private independent midwifery as well.  I’ve found no short clips of Mary doing her thing but if you’re interested, whole episodes exist on YouTube. It’s a series worth watching, also starring Martin Clunes as an undertaker.  Did you catch the symmetry there?

So in conclusion, reproduction is universal,  pregnancy is similar in most consumer cultures, teenagers the world over can’t resist the forbidden fruit, and the professional who’s there to catch the baby at the other end of the bed may have something to do with the way you pronounce the word “aluminum”.  As a reward for reading this entire post, please enjoy this fact filled clip from the people at the UK documentary series, One Born Every Minute, another reality series we nicked from the Brits.

Read Full Post »