Belfast Telegraph

How this ground-breaking show gave birth to TV gold

By Abi Jackson

As Channel 4's One Born Every Minute returns for an eighth series, we labour over the enduring appeal of the heart-warming, award-winning programme.

In this age of Big Brother 'stars' and 'belfies', it's little wonder that reality TV has a reputation for being somewhat shallow.

But among the vajazzles, Diary Room spats and Love Island bed-hopping, some gloriously human and ground-breaking gems shine through the reality genre rubble - like One Born Every Minute, Channel 4's fly-on-the-wall-style series set on various UK maternity.

Since its 2010 launch, hospitals in Bristol, Southampton and Leeds have featured, with 40 remotely-operated cameras capturing the action 24-hours-a-day over a six-week period - witnessing, to date, the births of 190 babies, which have taken place in maternity beds, birthing pools, operating theatres and even in the hospital car park.

It's raw stuff, capturing people at what could be their most vulnerable, powerless and life-changing moments, as they experience the overwhelming magic of bringing new life into the world.

It's one of those shows that manages to make you laugh, wince and cry, and while it's not been everybody's cup of tea, the Bafta-winning series has charmed audiences and stood the test of time, as it returns for an eighth series this month.

This time, the cameras are set up in Liverpool Women's Hospital, one of just two centres in the UK dedicated to the care and treatment of women and their families, and the largest of its kind in Europe.

"We're really looking forward to bringing One Born Every Minute back to Liverpool Women's, with its great mix of professionalism, warmth and humour," says Sarah Swingler, head of Dragonfly West, the production company behind it.

Here are six birth and baby facts ahead of the next round of contractions, umbilical cords and gas and air...

What a whopper

In February 2013, British mum Jade Packer gave birth - naturally (ouch!) - to 15lb 7oz baby boy George at Gloucester Royal Infirmary. He weighed in at more than double the average weight of a newborn, 7lb 8oz, but George wasn't the biggest baby on UK records... Back in 1992, Cumbria lad Guy Carr was born, tipping the scales at 15lb 8oz.

Keep 'em coming

Around 2,200 babies are born every day in the UK, which means the Channel 4 series' title is actually quite a conservative claim, as over a 24-hour period, the number of arrivals equates to slightly more than one per minute.

Oh boy

More boys than girls tend to be born, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Recent stats suggest that for every 100 females born, there are 105 male arrivals.

Boundless birthdays

July is the most common birthday month, closely followed by August, September and October, according to 2011 ONS figures for England and Wales. It's not all down to chance - birth rates spike nine months after public holidays and occasions like Christmas, and times of the year when couples were most likely to be going on holiday.

Modern relief

An epidural - an injection into the spine that numbs the nerves - is recognised as one of the most effective forms of pain relief available to women while giving birth. The procedure actually dates back to the early 1900s, but only became a commonly used pain relief option for childbirth in the Seventies.

Star approval

2014 proved that celebs and pop culture have a clear influence over name trends, with Elsa - as in the Frozen Disney princess - and Harper, the name David and Victoria Beckham chose for their daughter - both entering the top 100 girls names.

  • One Born Every Minute returns to Channel 4 on Wednesday, July 22

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