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On Baby Street

Series One 1996
Series Two 1997
Series Three 1998 (six episodes each)

Sharp, sardonic comedy drama about the trials of pregnancy and parenthood, written by Jenny Eclair and Julie Balloo.  The series observes the separate lives and occasional interactions of three parents who have markedly different social backgrounds but who all live on the same street and conceive children around the same time.  Series One concluded with the births of the babies; two subsequent series to date have carried them into their second year of life.  The cast is consistently strong despite a number of changes between series.  In a deliberate reversal of social expectation it is the working-class single mother Yvette (Tilly Vosburgh) who can provide the most secure and stable future for her child, thanks to her successful business, a worldly-wise older friend (originally played by Kathy Burke, and later by Linda Robson) and a widowed father (Keith Allen, and later Lee Cornes) who is supportive in spite of his all-abiding interest in fresh fish; by contrast, the distinctly well-heeled Geraldine (Frances Barber), recently separated from her obnoxious husband, is thoroughly miserable, out of her depth and at the mercy of a domineering mother.  Somewhere in between, and struggling with the burden of twins, are Ian (Graham Fellows, in a role not a million miles from alter ego John Shuttleworth) and Shona (originally Caroline Aherne then known as Caroline Hook and later Claire Skinner), whose simple world is shaken up when Shona goes out to work and Ian becomes a full-time house-husband.  Presiding over the unfolding story, providing narration and determining destiny, is the figure of Mother Nature, played by Jenny Eclair herself and interpreted (with compelling logic) as a pantomime villain, complete with evil laugh.

© JB Sumner 1998