The pain that never goes away

I’ve become hooked on a BBC comedy starring Dawn French and Alfred Molina, although I don’t really see it as a comedy at all.

When I watched the first episode of Roger and Val Have Just Got In I thought it was about nothing more than an unremarkable couple getting in from work and talking about their day, while they geared up to do mundane household tasks like hanging curtains. But gradually, an altogether more poignant theme emerged which rapidly tore at my heart-strings. The subtle clues were there (the little painted chair at the end of Episode One) but I missed them at the start. It was only when Val picks up a photograph of her younger self holding a tiny baby that I realised the tragedy behind the comedy. It emerges that Roger and Val’s baby son died at 5 weeks and they remain childless every since.

Beth Kilcoyne, co-writer of the series with her sister Emma, explains that their aim was to “set Roger and Val Stevenson’s life in the context of tragedy and… therefore deploy the concept of seeing them intimately at home to answer that ultimate question: why go on?”

“Losing a child is the worst thing in the world that can happen to a person. It hasn’t happened to me and we would have had no moral authority to write about it had it not been for a friend of ours who had recently lost her own much-loved baby girl…. I told our friend that it had been suggested, and I will never forget her reply: “I absolutely dare you to write this series to show that where there is love, there is hope.” That’s when I said yes, and throughout the writing process our brave friend collaborated with Emma and me; there is no emotion around the subject of loss that didn’t come from her.”

Watching Roger and Val  is a bittersweet experience. I caught the repeat last night and felt overwhelmed with emotion when Val, says of her baby  “inside I still feel like his mummy”. This was in response to Roger’s assertion that he was a Dad for 5 weeks, but he is no one’s dad anymore. Val says quietly “his name is Stephen”.

Powerful and heart-wrenching stuff but utterly believable, and in my mind made all the more so because of the very ordinariness of their lives. The cracks are papered over, the heart-wounds patched up, but ultimately the pain lies exposed underneath and never goes away.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Martine Brennan
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:49:20

    I think it is so important that we as bereaved parents know that we are parents to our child for ALL OUR LIVES not just for the short time they were with us. I am the mother of three daughters, two of whom live with me and one of whom, Hannah died in 2004.


  2. Lily
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 15:54:41

    Marie, I don’t know the programme but great post.


  3. Steph
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 10:51:05


    Sounds like an excellent series.

    It’s always good to hear of any programme that gives the painful reality of baby loss, the attention it deserves. All too often, miscarriage and baby loss is treated as a taboo subject, leaving grieving parents without support at the very time when they need it most.

    Life does go on after suffering the loss of a much wanted baby, but it’s never the same again. Our lost babies live on in our hearts forever.

    Marie, it’s more than 20 years since my last miscarriage and even though I’ve been lucky enough to experience the joy of bringing up two children, I still feel the pain of what might have been.

    Life can seem so very unfair at times but then, who ever said that life would be easy?


  4. Luann
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 08:39:31

    Marie, I think you bring up an excellent point in that loosing a baby is a much wider issue that I really thought for a TV producer to put this in a series. I wish I could say something that would make it all go away. Just know that I have and continue to lift you up in prayer to the great healer! So many miles away and yet you are in my heart. Hugs sister!


  5. Lorna
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 20:43:32

    I haven’t seen this but I must look out for it – good post Marie


  6. JBBC
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 21:24:30

    Thank you all for your comments x


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