In her research preparing for her Amazing Grace role as a midwife, actor Kate Jenkinson, watched a lot of TV.
But it wasn’t Call the Midwife, Love Child nor Offspring.
Instead it was factual series One Born Every Minute.
“I watched a lot of that show as part of my research,” she tells TV Tonight. “Other than professional midwives, I feel like I’ve seen more babies getting born than any other human on the planet!
“But I can understand why people continue to, and will continue to, write stories, incorporating birth & motherhood. It’s the most important relationship that you will ever have …between you and your parents, and especially the woman that grew you inside her.”
Jenkinson plays Grace Cresswell who runs an unconventional Birth Centre attached to a major hospital. A fierce advocate for her pregnant mothers-to-be, her dubious work / life balance is about to get even more chaotic when a new arrival at the Birth Centre changes her life forever.
“At the heart of the show is what a lot of wonderful dramas are about”
“At the heart of the show is what a lot of wonderful dramas are about: a wonderfully dysfunctional family. In the case of this story, it’s about Grace, her biological mother Diane (Sigrid Thornton), her biological daughter Sophia (Alexandra Jensen), and her biological granddaughter Edie.
“We are so very connected by blood and relation but we are so completely disconnected in ‘real life.’”
The cast also features Alex Dimitriades, Ben O’Toole, Catherine Văn-Davies, Kat Hoyos, Ben Mingay and Luke Ford.
For Jenkinson, whose credits include Wentworth, Doctor Doctor, Super Fun Night and The Ex-PM, the series also marks the first time she has the title role.
“It’s really weird, because from the inside, and certainly everyday filming it, it never really feels like I’m at the head of the triangle.
“I just feel like I’m one part of a very large ensemble and we’re all making it together”
“I just feel like I’m one part of a very large ensemble and we’re all making it together. I certainly don’t feel like I’m more important than anyone else. But certainly in in terms of workload, it’s been a different kettle of fish for me.”
The Playmaker drama is written by Jonathan Gavin, Sarah Smith, Ainslie Clouston with directors Shawn Seet, Lucy Gaffy & Sian Davies.
Given the flux of baby-related dramas that precede Amazing Grace, how does the Nine show differ?
“It’s as different as it is similar. But I don’t think that what made shows like Call the Midwife, Offspring, Love Child wonderful was the delivering of babies.
“I think what made those shows wonderful and what makes this show wonderful, is the incredible relationships and the dynamic between the characters. It’s the beautiful, big extended dysfunctional family that we meet in Amazing Grace. That’s really where the heart of the drama is. In that respect, it’s kind of similar to so many stories.
“It can be the best day of someone’s life, it can also be the worst day of someone’s life”
“But there is just something incredibly intoxicating, and instantly dramatic about babies being born. It’s the most important day of so many people’s lives: the parents, the baby. Just as easily as it can be the best day of someone’s life, it can also be the worst day of someone’s life.
“People’s lives can hang in the balance and the propensity for things to go wrong is high. It’s a good recipe for drama so I can understand on that level, why so many stories have been created with that as a backdrop.
“It’s about the four generations of women who gave birth to each other and through life have become distanced from each other. But the way that they come crashing together is the point of interest in this show.
“How we navigate relationships with one another is a very, very tricky dynamic. I think it’s something that hopefully we will get to explore for many seasons to come.”
Amazing Grace premieres 9pm Wednesday on Nine.