Maternal review – you know these exhausted women in your bones
This wonderful drama about doctors going back to work after having children is a spot-on exploration of female friendship – and how to survive in a system stacked against you
‘You wanted to be a mother,” Catherine MacDiarmid’s mother tells her. “It demands sacrifices.” New ITV1 drama Maternal interrogates how true this is and how true it should be – two very different questions – as it follows the return to frontline NHS work of three female doctors after their maternity leaves end.
MacDiarmid’s baby was the result of a-few-nights’ stands with fellow surgeon Lars, who was over from Scandinavia and returned to his wife without knowing about the pregnancy. MacDiarmid, an ambitious professional (played with perfect flintiness by Lara Pulver) rapidly finds out how much her time away has cost her. She is behind on surgical hours, of course, but not allowed to scrub in until she has completed the re-introductory course given by a bored lecturer, who knows that this is just one of many box-ticking exercises with which the path to efficiency is stupidly littered. MacDiarmid has lost standing in the male-dominated world of surgery and is straight out of the traps trying to build it back up.