Emma Willis: 'I was able to see a water birth which was amazing'
Emma Willis: Delivering Babies is back, this time following the presenter as a qualified maternity care assistant. She chats to Georgia Humphreys about the overwhelming response to the first series, new challenges and her own experiences of childbirth
When W announced a new show called Emma Willis: Delivering Babies, there's no denying it sounded a little random. But for Brummie TV personality Willis, training as a maternity care assistant was something she had wanted to do for a very long time.
And the result, a six-part series in which she was thrown in at the deep end, working 10-hour shifts at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, was a huge success, becoming W's most-watched series of 2018.
Now, the 43-year-old former Big Brother presenter is reprising the role for a second series. Putting everything she learned last year to the test, we see her working on the same ward, but as a fully-qualified maternity care assistant (MCA).
"My first thoughts were, 'What do you mean, you want us to go back in eight weeks?!'," recalls the mother-of-three when asked how she felt about filming more episodes. "It was a very quick turnaround.
"And I think my second thought was, 'I hope I love it as much. I hope it doesn't just become the norm, that I'm still blown away by everything I see and do'."
Well, it's fair to say that she found it just as incredible this time round...
Here, Willis, who's married to Busted musician Matt Willis, talks about completing her training, emotional experiences whilst filming, and balancing work and family life.
ON THE REACTION TO THE FIRST SERIES...
I wanted the people I was working with to see it as a true reflection of what they do, and they all said that it was bang on. To get that feedback from other care workers around the country, who had watched it and had said, 'Thank you for doing it and for doing a true representation of it', that's what meant the most really.
ON THE FILMING PROCESS...
We had to go there and live and breathe it, and it was full on. Then they said, 'Do you want to go and do it again?' And I was like, 'Okay!' Never a hesitation.
The only difference is last time we blocked out that period of time, and that was all I did for that amount of time. This time, the first part of my diary was half full, so I was there any day I had off, basically. So, it was a bit more peppered.
ON THE TRAINING...
I'd done lots of classroom work before we got there but to complete your care certificate and be a qualified MCA you have to do the 15 written modules as well. So, that was a big part of what we did this time.
On top of that we did work in intensive care and special care, and then brushing up on working in theatre, and fully taking part without panicking... And then completely qualifying and finishing everything.
ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE JOB...
Because I had to do all the written work this time, that was like a big old cloud that was hanging over me. It's like being at school again, and you're working three jobs anyway, and then you've got to go home and do homework, but you've got three kids and you've got to go to work first thing in the morning and you've got a husband and washing... all of that! But we got there in the end - with help.
ON FAVOURITE MOMENTS FROM FILMING...
I got to see a water birth, which was amazing! And there was an amazing family who have struggled to conceive - I think it's eight or nine years they have been trying for, and failed IVF a few times - and she came in to have her twins.
I got to do all the post-op stuff with her; take her to the ward, get them ready and have the whole process. Rather than meeting somebody, being there for the birth, maybe not seeing them again, you're there from beginning to end. So having that full circle of seeing everything was amazing.
ON WHETHER SHE'D GIVE BIRTH ON CAMERA...
Part of me thinks, 'Oh my God, they're so brave, I wouldn't do that!' But then, Matt had his phone out during our births, and so in a sense it is filmed. And knowing the process that we go through... It's not about physically filming the baby coming out, it's the situation that's happening and the environment that you're in and getting the reactions of the staff and the family.
For first-time mums it must be terrifying, and I'm not surprised they go, 'Absolutely not'. But I've had a few babies and it is the most incredible thing to watch, because you're so all over the place when it happens, and there are little things that you forget.
I have footage of my babies coming out, and I watch it frequently, because it's the most special thing in the world, so I do think it's a great memory to have, and to show them one day.
Emma Willis: Delivering Babies returns to W on Monday, 10pm.