The Bad Mother's Handbook

Sunday 11 May, 8.30pm

Kate Long’s adaptation of her best-selling novel, The Bad Mother’s Handbook, starring Catherine Tate.

Life has been a bit of a disappointment so far for Karen (Catherine Tate). Although she always felt she was destined for greatness, she finds herself in her 30s, divorced, living in a cluttered ex-council house and having to care not just for her stroppy teenage daughter Charlotte (Holly Grainger) but also her ailing mum, Nan (Anne Reid).
So when her boss offers her the opportunity to go on a trip to Paris, Karen jumps at the chance of a temporary escape. But in the process of arranging her passport, Karen makes a startling discovery: she’s adopted, and Nan isn’t her biological mother after all. Karen’s thrown into confusion. She doesn’t know who she is any more and she feels cheated, as if she’s been living the wrong life. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s also having problems. Having dumped her first serious boyfriend, Paul (Oliver Lee), for cheating on her, she’s struggling to concentrate on schoolwork and feeling nauseous. Is it a broken heart or something else?

Writer Kate Long was inspired to write The Bad Mother’s Handbook when she was trying to get pregnant for the first time. “It took me a long time to have a baby and it occurred to me many times during those anxious years that fertility is a bit of a lottery. Some women get pregnant when they don’t want to, and other women try so hard and don’t get anywhere. That was the tiny spark of the idea.”

She started writing the book after her first son was born. “I remember drawing a rough timeline of the plot one night when Ben was about five or six weeks old. It was about three o’clock in the morning and Ben wouldn’t sleep, so I wrote some notes out of boredom. I began the novel properly three years later, working on it in the evenings and during the school holidays. Although I loved being a teacher, I gave the job up when I realised I was going to be quite involved in promoting the book. I knew that I couldn’t teach, write, tour, and look after the kids and the house.”

The Bad Mother’s Handbook became a number one bestseller and an offer from a production company swiftly followed. Long is very pleased with the screen version. “I’ve been a fan of Catherine Tate, Steve Pemberton and Anne Reid for years, so it was really exciting meeting them for the first time. Everyone back home wanted to know what it was like. Holly Grainger’s great as well; I’ve been very impressed with her portrayal of Charlotte.”

However, Long’s children weren’t exactly thrilled by her foray into the world of telelvision. “As far as they’re concerned, it’s just a pain for them at the moment because it means they get picked up from school late some nights! I’m sure they’ll be excited when it comes on TV though – that’s if I let them watch it. There is quite a bit of swearing in it.”

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