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I TALK In The Club (Series 2)

Cast your minds back to August 2014, and you'll probably remember an excellent new drama about pregnancy on BBC One. It was called In The Club, and starred Jill Halfpenny, Hermione Norris and Christine Bottomley amongst others.

I know what you're thinking, and you'd be right, I'm probably not the right demographic for such a show, but hopefully when I tell you it was written by Kay Mellor, you'll understand why I enjoyed the show so much.

Since the first series of In The Club, Kay kept busy with a brilliant third series of The Syndicate (I'm still hoping for a fourth) and now she's returning to the world of babies for a second series of In The Club.

Unlike The Syndicate, which changed cast each series, Kay has chosen to remain with her core cast and follow their journeys 10 months on from series one - and what a brilliant cast they are! Everything I loved about the first series can be said about the second.

Kay’s ability to write characters which are real people, is her real strength and from what I’ve seen of the second series, continues to shine through the screen. Having already invested in these characters for a full series, the thought of following them for another six episodes is an appealing one, and Kay doesn’t let us down, with the end of each episode leaving you wanting more.

Here’s a reminder of who the key characters are, what happened in the first series, as well as what we can come to expect from series two...

The brilliant Katherine Parkinson (Humans) returns to play Kim, a blogger and teaching assistant whose love life is made ever complicated by her ex-partner Susie (Tara Fitzgerald). Having just had a baby with Susie’s best friend Neil (Jonathan Kerrigan, Emmerdale), we meet Kim in series two as she is struggling to be the "perfect mum" to baby Emily. An ambition which is taking its toll on her relationship with Neil.

He tries his best to be to be supportive, but as Kim gets more and more lost in a world of nappies, their sex life plummets to an all-time low. Taking to her blog, she sums it up perfectly when she writes "I think when I gave birth to Emily, my labido was on the other end of the cord, because it’s completely bloody vanished. I haven’t felt aroused, or into sex since the day I had her”.

What doesn’t help, is that she hasn’t seen Susie since the split and is anxious that she’ll have no choice but to face her sooner or later, what with her and Neil sharing a son, Jude. Nick knows this too and whilst he doesn’t want to upset her by revealing that Susie has moved on, he knows that he can’t protect her from the truth forever.

How will Kim react when she does find out about Susie’s new lover? And will the couple ever be able to revive their sex life?

Hermione Norris (Cold Feet) is back as businesswoman Roanna, who after going through a messy divorce at the start of series one, is trying her best to hide her past from young lover Simon (Luke Thompson) who now have a baby boy together, called Sonny.

Not only did Roanna lose her husband, but she also lost her high-flying career at the recruitment company she and Ray built up.

With her settlement money from the divorce yet to surface, she’s struggle to find another job. When she does get an interview, she’s overqualified and over-experienced. And if that isn’t enough, her age is often against her.

As for Simon, he’s an artist, but is yet to get a commission, so with no money coming in, he and Roanna are stuck living in a small, damp rented cottage. A life far from the five bedroom detached house Roanna left behind. It’s not how Roanna expected to be living at this point in her life and the reality of her choices is starting to become all too real for her.

Simon doesn’t see why they can’t just move back into his parent’s house where they lived before, but Roanna is adamant she doesn’t want to go back there. But what she hasn’t told Simon why. Will Simon ever find out about Roanna’s past with his dad?

Jill Halfpenny and Will Mellor return as troubled couple Diane and Rick. After suffering a miscarriage, the couple decided to adopt as they thought they would no longer be able to have kids. Series one saw that this wasn’t the case, as Diane gave birth to a miracle set of twins.

After being made redundant, and hiding it from his wife for around five months, the pressure to provide for his family proved too much when he robbed a bank and contemplated ending his life when he was caught.

The series ended with the revelation that Rick had been handed a ten month sentence for aggravated robbery, leaving Diane alone to look after the children, whilst ensuring that she didn’t lose the house.

In order to save the house, Diane has started working as a childminder, but with the house full of kids, Diane rarely gets a minute to herself and when she does her mind’s preoccupied with her concerns over baby Hope’s development.

As series two picks up 10 months later we know that Rick is due for release soon. But when Diane visits Rick inside, it’s clear that there’s no love lost between them. She even admits to Kim that it’s going to weird when he gets out as they haven’t been together in ages.

How will the couple cope with being back together? Will they stay together? Even if just for the sake of their children.

Midwife Vicky, played by the wonderful Christine Bottomley, runs the antenatal clinic’s Parentcraft classes for expectant mums.

In the first series we found out that she had discreetly begun dating Dr Chris Bellingham (Brendan Patricks), and thought he could finally be the one. But when an unplanned pregnancy raised the question of marriage she was devastated to hear him say he couldn’t marry her.

When he risked losing Vicky during her labour, he had no choice but to reveal the reason why. He was already married. Years ago he’d married a woman from Gambia who needed a visa, but promised to divorce her if it meant that he could marry Vicky. Providing she said yes of course, which she did.

The second series sees Chris determined to find his wife, but since the arrival of her son, Vicky’s priorities have shifted somewhat and is not so bothered anymore. But Chris is keen to push forward with the marriage, and has set off in the hunt for the woman from Gambia he married.

In the process, he left Vicky on her own, trying to juggle caring for their baby son Ben with a full-time job. Will Chris find his wife? And even if he does, will she still want to go ahead with the marriage?

If you cast your minds back to series one, Jasmin’s (Taj Atwal) first pregnancy was surrounded by doubt over who the father would be. Following a pre-wedding fling with Jack, a colleague at work, it was 50/50 as to whether or not her new husband Dev (Sacha Dhawan) would be the father.

Thankfully he was, but the couple struggled with parenthood. Dev forgot the baby, leaving her crying in his fan, forcing social services to pay them a visit. Now poor Dev’s found himself living in a house full of women where he can do no right. But this is the least of his worries.

Ten months on the couple are getting ready to welcome not one, but two new babies into the family, as Jasmin is expecting twins. However a visit to the hospital reveals some bad news, one of the twins is bigger than the other, and there’s a real possibility that she could lose them.

As she starts blaming herself for the complications, her friends and family gather around to offer advice. But who will Jasmin listen to, and what will the future hold for her and Dev?

In the first series, soxteen-year-old Rosie (Hannah Midgley) fell pregnant at 15, after having sex for the first time. Her mum had died from breast cancer a couple of years before and Rosie was frightened what her widowed dad would say, so she decided to hide it from everyone.

She turned to Kim’s pregnancy blog for support and when she found out that she was going into labour she turned to Kim for help and support. When her father was killed in a terrible accident, Kim took her in, and it was then that Rosie revealed who the father of the baby was - Jude (Danny Breeze), the son of Kim’s lover Susie.

To give him his credit, Jude stuck by Rosie and the couple are still together today, living with his mother Susie and her new lover Claire (Claire Cooper), and looking after baby Dinah, names after Rosie’s late mother.

They’ve had to grow up pretty fast, but with no money coming in, and a second baby on the way, the last thing they want to hear is that soon they’ll have nowhere to live, as the house has been sold. Following baby Dinah’s christening, an argument between Susie and Kim was the catalyst to send the young couple packing.

They return to the high-rise council flat she shared with her dad, however things take an unexpected turn as they get into the lift.

As well as the old favourites, there are some new ones to enjoy as well. In her first ever acting role, Gemma Dobson plays Shelly, who is a surrogate for two gay lads her mother Maxine (Sandra Huggett) cleans for three times a week.

If she can deliver a healthy baby she’ll get £10,000, so she’s just “renting out her womb” - her words, not mine. Her plan is to pay off her pay-day loans so she can open a beauty bar in the local shopping centre.

They share a small council house in Leeds and Maxine has been on again-off again with her husband Micky for as long as Shelly can remember. As it stands, things are very much off as he has buggered off to Dubai leaving Maxine to jet off to Ibiza with the girls, go a little crazy, but now she has calmed down, she realises she still loves him and wishes he’d come home.

Maxine’s not so sure and she’s worried Shelly hasn’t thought it through, remembering how she felt when the midwife first put her Shelly and her brothers in her arms. For now she’s trying to support her daughter and keep over an over-excited Andrew and Nathan at bay, but she’s worried how Shelly will feel when she holds her own baby in her arms.

As luck would have it, Maxine has a connection to one of the original characters, Rosie,. When she overhears the details of Dinah’s christening at the same church her parents got married in, Maxine tells Rosie that she was best friends with her mother at school and a bridesmaid at her wedding. It’s apparent that they hadn’t spoken in a very long time though, as she was unaware of Dinah’s breast cancer.

Things get off to a dramatic start for Maxine in In The Club as she pops to the toilet and comes back screaming and shaking, having found a newborn baby crying in the cubicle next to her. But is all as it seems?

Nathan and Andrew, the two lads Shelly is having a baby for, are played by Paul Nicholls and Andrew Buckley. Nathan is a successful interior designer, living with his long-term partner Andrew, a primary school teacher.

Having been together for a while, the next step for their relationship is too start a family. Having initially thought about adoption, they turned to surrogacy instead so that one of them could be the biological father and their baby would be truly theirs. You can imagine how pleased they were when Shelly, their cleaner’s daughter, agreed to carry their child at a cost of £10,000.

Andrew is very excited to become a father and has taken as much paternity leave as possible from his job as a primary school teacher. As the baby’s due date comes close, he’s busy rushing around trying to get everything ready and buying all the provisions they need for the arrival of their son. He wants constant updates from Shelly and he’s increasingly worried that something will go wrong and she’ll decide to keep the baby.

Nathan is more practical and level-headed, trying to keep Andrew calm and reassure him that everything will be ok, while also trying to make sure that Shelly is happy as she prepares to delivery her amazing ‘gift’ to them.

Will they get the fairytale ending they want? Or will Shelly decide a baby is worth keeping more than £10,000?

In The Club returns Tuesday 3rd May at 9pm on BBC One


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