In the BBC series Love Life, a heart-twisting entanglement ensues as two couples spar over a surprise pregnancy.
Downton Abbey's Rob James-Collier returns to screens in Love Life
Nothing tears the heart out – or makes for spellbinding television drama – like a tug of war over a baby.
BBC Entertainment has an emotional gut-puncher on its hands with Love Life, a new series about four people, one unplanned baby and a tender Gordian Knot of a relationship tangle.
The story begins with a footloose dreamer named Joe (Rob James-Collier), just back from a year-long jaunt to climb Everest, where he fled to escape the pressure to get married and have babies with his girlfriend Lucy (Andrea Lowe). He bumps into his ex only to discover she’s now married and seriously pregnant. It’s a devastating blow; he immediately sees the error of his ways. But here’s the twist – Lucy is not married; she’s lying. Worse, the real father has no clue she’s in a family way.
Lucy refuses to say who the father is, but Joe uncovers a bombshell – it’s her ex-boss, Dominic (Alexander Armstrong), who’s married to the prickly Penny (Sophie Thompson). They’ve been trying to have a child for years, and Penny’s baby obsession drove Dominic into a brief fling with Lucy. When Joe accidentally reveals to Dominic that Lucy is pregnant, the foursome’s collective angst shifts into high gear.
For her part, Penny is torn to pieces by the very notion that another woman is having her husband’s baby. Then it hits her – if only she could have that child, her life would be complete. She convinces herself that she and Dominic have just as much right to the child as Lucy. A romantic, heart-rending, thorny mess ensues as the drama unspools in a highly entertaining fashion.
Lowe found this series sweet serendipity on both a personal and professional level. When she first auditioned to play the mum-to-be Lucy, she had no idea she was pregnant herself. But by the time she got the part, she knew.
“That’s when I told the producers, just to make sure they still wanted me,” Lowe says in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“I didn’t tell the rest of the cast and crew until I’d had my 12-week scan, partly so I knew the baby was all right and partly because I didn’t want the pregnancy to get in the way of work. People think pregnant women are really delicate and I didn’t want any special treatment. I just wanted to be treated normally.”
“I suffered terrible insomnia and, weirdly for a vegetarian, I had this huge craving for meat,” adds the 38-year-old. “I also craved bananas, eggs and chips and by the end of the shoot I was eating my body weight in chocolate every day. It’s a wonder I didn’t balloon.”
For James-Collier, the part of Joe is his first TV role since playing the scheming footman Thomas in Downton Abbey.
“Working with Rob was fun,” says Lowe. “He’s trying something different with this – a change of direction for him after a couple of series of Downton Abbey. He’s a lovely, down-to-earth guy who’s easy to get along with and a really good laugh.
On set, James-Collier also proved himself a heart-palpitating prankster.
“We used real babies and prosthetic ones [in the series] and would swap them around,” he says. “We had a lot of fun fooling the crew by throwing fake babies around when they didn’t know if it was a real baby or a prosthetic one. We’d shout ‘Catch!’ and wait for the reaction!”
• Love Life is broadcast at 9pm on Wednesdays on BBC Entertainment
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