Actor Darren Boyd: 'NHS midwives are the real heroes'
With a young family and starring in labour ward comedy The Delivery Man, Darren Boyd has to be a childbirth expert
When Darren Boyd thinks back on his time filming The Delivery Man, one discussion springs to mind. "I do remember a far-too-long conversation about whether 'vaginal' was pronounced vag-in-al or vag-eye-nal," says the 44-year-old, laughing as he recalls how the conversation played out.
"You stand around with producers, someone's on Google checking, someone's calling back to the office [to ask how it's pronounced], and sometimes you sit back and go, 'this is quite unique...'," adds the actor who plays Matthew, a former police constable who has re-trained as a midwife in the maternity ward-set comedy.
Unique, too, was the characterisation.
"It's lovely that Matthew's very sincere about what he's doing and why he's doing it," explains Boyd. "It would have been too obvious, I think, to have jokes at him being clumsy and being awkward as a man. All his dealings with the mums-to-be are done really nicely."
The series, which also boasts Paddy McGuinness and Fay Ripley among its cast, sees the maternity staff contending with teenage parents, a "double dad" who has two partners in labour and a pregnant prisoner on release.
As a father in real life to two-year-old Eliza and baby Melody, with his American nutritionist wife Amanda, Boyd could draw on his familiarity with maternity wards to play Matthew, "albeit from a different perspective".
"Both our children were born in NHS hospitals and we had fantastic experiences," recalls the actor, also known for his roles in Fortitude, Spy and Green Wing.
"When Melody was born, the midwife came in at the end of a very long shift and she was as upbeat and selfless and positive and there for us as you could ever hope for. They're real heroes."
With just 16 months between them, Boyd's daughters are very close.
"What's great is that Eliza never remembers life without Melody," he says. "They're growing up together in the truest sense of the word. You can see Eliza's protective, loving, nurturing energy and Melody just wants to be with Eliza. It's such a beautiful thing to see."
As well as everything else, fatherhood has altered the London-based actor's perspective on being away from home for extended periods of time. Much as he "honours" the travel associated with his job, he's not as quick to pack his bags and head off.
"But I don't think it's just being a father," adds Boyd with a laugh. "I'm 44 now, I'm a little older and I like being at home."
Sky crime thriller Fortitude, in which he played creepy Markus, was "great" for Boyd, because filming was "staggered" between London and Iceland.
"The last two or three years for me have really been about me pushing forward with interesting and hopefully diverse output," he says. "I was very proud to be part of Fortitude, and it's getting fantastic feedback."
Feedback means greater recognition, and although Boyd - who acted on stage before working on TV hits Kiss Me Kate and Smack The Pony in the Nineties - admits there's "some currency in having a profile", he has never wanted to be a "personality".
That said, he has been able to use his platform for good. A passionate supporter of anti-bullying campaigns, a few years ago he created a post, Future Self, on his blog, inviting people who have been bullied to write a letter to their younger selves. He was prompted to do so after reading a poem written by a teenager who had killed herself after years of bullying.
Boyd has been heartened by the response he received online: "I read the poem and it just destroyed me. When you have kids, you realise how quickly it goes. It just suddenly felt so close and it broke my heart. What's amazing is the amount of trust when you're asking people to write to the most wounded part of themselves. But people did it, and did it freely."
Boyd will do whatever he can to help, and he's backed up by a community of support. A cursory glance at his Twitter profile shows that even just posting the words 'Jaffa Cakes' garnered 15 "favourites".
"I was craving them," he explains, laughing. "I couldn't find them anywhere, so I just thought if I could put that out there to the universe, laws of attraction and all of that, but the universe didn't provide."
Although his biscuit tin is empty, work is booming, and Boyd is pleased to keep stretching himself.
"From my early days, I went wherever someone would open a door. It's taken me some time to work out what's important to me and what matters to me, and see that fruition. I want to walk that line between pushing people's ideas of what I might be doing next and challenging it," he adds.
- The Delivery Man, ITV, Wednesday, 9.30pm