ITV has commissioned Maternal, a new medical drama that will seek to balance the intense demands of the NHS and motherhood.
The theme of motherhood is certainly having a moment in TV and film – and we couldn’t be more excited. Gone are the tired tropes; we can now look forward to thought-provoking depictions of what modern motherhood looks like.
And while we count down the days for the release of some slightly more farfetched series about motherhood – eg I Think My Mother-In-Law Is Trying To Kill Me and Sky’s The Baby (as well as The Midwich Cuckoos, which was released last month) – they have nevertheless put parental care front and centre in the most chilling of ways.
Now, ITV has commissioned a brand new medical drama that explores motherhood in a more realistic way – and trust us, it sounds powerful. Maternal not only has an all-female leading cast but it’s also set to explore motherhood and its demands on the NHS in a way we haven’t really seen on TV before. Sounds exciting already, right?
With that, here’s everything you need to know about Maternal.
What is the plot of Maternal?
If there’s one drama that has won us over by its synopsis alone, it’s this one. Maternal will focus on three female doctors who, according to the synopsis, “return to post-pandemic frontline medicine after maternity leave and have to heroically balance the intense demands of the NHS and motherhood.
“Maternal explores working motherhood with wit, warmth and humour and offers a unique perspective on our beloved, overstretched NHS, and the people who hold it together. Sometimes.”
While BBC One’s This Is Going To Hurt certainly did a stellar job of showcasing the current state of the NHS and its frontline workers, this post-pandemic drama will likely home in on the overstretched nature, burnout and intensity of the current medical environment. A gripping but nonetheless fascinating reality that we can’t wait to see played out on screen.
Who will star in Maternal?
As previously mentioned, this ITV drama is being led by a trio of well-known female actors.
Parminder Nagra (of Bend It Like Beckham and, more recently, DI Ray fame) will star as paediatric registrar Dr Maryam Afridi, who doubts her ability to cope with the emotional demands of treating children now that she has her own; Lara Pulver (The Split) is Ms Catherine MacDiarmid, a single mother and successful surgeon determined to be one of the boys in the macho world of surgery; and Lisa McGrillis (King Gary) is Dr Helen Cavendish, a registrar in acute medicine, who is wrestling with a self-prescribed role that sees her mothering everyone in her life.
As of yet, no other cast members have been announced but we’ll be sure to update when we know more.
What has been said about Maternal?
Maternal will be written by Jacqui Honess-Martin, an experienced director and theatre writer who is lending her talents to the small screen for the first time. Talking about the script and the series, ITV’s head of drama, Polly Hill, said: “Jacqui’s scripts are brilliant, and they perfectly capture how difficult it can be for women juggling family life, whilst under pressure at work, making critical life or death decisions.
“It’s hard to believe this is her first television drama. I’m thrilled Parminder, Lara and Lisa will lead our cast and to be working with Patrick Spence and James Griffiths on what promises to be a modern and engaging medical drama.”
Honess-Martin added: “I am thrilled to bring this funny, warm and quietly political story to ITV. It’s been humbling to have the opportunity to hear the stories of so many brave and brilliant female doctors working in the NHS over the past two years and I know the incredible team working on this show will do them proud.”
The drama will also be directed by well-known Bafta-nominated director James Griffiths, who has set up countless hit US series including Black-ish. He said of the new series: “The best material attracts the best talent so I feel so grateful that I get to collaborate with this incredible cast and crew to bring this authentic and relevant story to the screen.”
When and where will Maternal be available to watch?
While we don’t have an exact release date, we do know that filming for Maternal is currently underway and the six-part series is set to air on ITV in 2023.
Watch this space for updates.
Images: Getty; ITV; BBC