Babies In The Office Review: Whaaaa?!

BABIES IN THE OFFICE: Monday 16th July, BBC2, 7pm

The cost of childcare is astronomical. For a child under two, it’ll set you back more than £5,000 a year. With families already facing tough cutbacks and rising bills, it’s a cost many will struggle to bear. In some cases, it may even work out cheaper for a parent to give up work altogether and look after their child full time. Addison Lee – the UK’s largest minicab company – is trialling a new model of childcare imported from the States; allowing employees to have their children with them at their desk. Yup.

It’s a damning indictment of the state of childcare in this country that we are having to consider schemes from America, where paid maternity leave isn’t even a legal right. The problem is that Babies in the Office is lacking any real insight. Ask a group of friends what they think are the likely benefits and problems of having infants in the workplace, and they’ll map out at least half this episode for you. The occasional academic will pop up to tell you what the theoretical benefits of the scheme are, but they don’t seem to add up to much more than “won’t do the baby much harmâ€?.

The documentary’s also a bit quick to dismiss the quite legitimate concerns of those workers who don’t want babies screaming down their phones during important business calls. There is a particularly patronising dismissal of the (predominantly male) sales team. You can, however, introduce some much needed entertainment to the piece by assuming every use of the word “mothersâ€? is meant in the Samuel L. Jackson sense, e.g. “Let’s see what we can do for these mothersâ€?.

Childcare is a serious issue and even Fifty Shades of Grey can’t properly tackle the stifling effect it is having on birth rates. But whilst it needs to be discussed, sadly it’s a very boring discussion and this is very boring TV. Babies in the Office offers no insight and adds little to the debate. The true success of the scheme can only be judged across a wider timeframe than that offered in this first episode. There is a second episode on Tuesday night, but it’s doubtful how many will want to plough on with it after this. Now I feel like crying.

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