| 17.7°C Dublin

Womb to improve RTE's The Rotunda show criticised for putting ratings over partners

The popular Irish show returned to the small screen on Wednesday night, and you don't have to be a new parent - or a parent at all - to understand why it angered so many viewers

Close

Michelle and Clive Ross with baby RIo

Michelle and Clive Ross with baby RIo

Michelle and Clive Ross with baby RIo

When it comes to reality TV formats, there have been some absolute shockers over the years.

Who else remembers The Swan, the grotesque American show where a group of supposedly 'ugly' women went under the knife, drill, and whatever other power tools a team of cosmetic surgeons could find, in a bid to be crowned the most unrecognisable after a three month 'glow up'?

Then there was the Fox offering, I Wanna Marry Harry, where (surprise) a group of women battled it out to win the heart of Prince Harry, who unfortunately turned out to be a Harry lookalike, and which was mercifully axed faster than the real-life royal from the Clarence House Christmas card list.

And who could forget Boy Meets Boy, another noughties US gem, which saw (plot twist) a group of gay men compete for the affections of one eligible bachelor, except half the suitors were only pretending to be gay in the hopes of winning $25,000 by duping the leading man into choosing them.

Close

But even those complete clangers now seem like television classics next to the crass decision to allow RTÉ cameras into the labour ward at peak pandemic for the new series of The Rotunda.

The popular Irish show returned to the small screen on Wednesday night, and you don't have to be a new parent - or a parent at all - to understand why it angered so many viewers.

Made by Scratch Films, the award-winning programme depicts the highs and lows of pregnancy and childbirth in the world's longest-running maternity hospital in Dublin.

And no one could begrudge Michelle and Clive Ross, who featured on season three's opening episode, every milisecond of happiness as they welcomed baby son, Rio, three years after their first child Zach died after being born prematurely.

There was just one tiny quibble with the returning series shot amid the harshest Covid-19 restrictions.

While camera operators were busy capturing every eye-watering moment, partners were left anxiously waiting in the car park for news of their little one's safe arrival, and, inside, expectant mums all alone as they laboured through childbirth - or, worst of all, child loss.

Things went from bad to exactly-whose-idea-was-this when it emerged the crew were not vaccinated when the series began filming in November 2020.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Downplaying the understandable tsunami of upset triggered by the show, which has engulfed social media, talk radio and column inches ever since, a spokesperson for The Rotunda defended the "limited" use of "a compact two-person crew" in the delivery suites when remotely operated fixed cameras couldn't catch all the action.

Compact? I don’t care if they were actual zygotes - they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

On Friday, after everyone from Joe Duffy to Taoiseach Micheál Martin had waded in, the hospital apologised for the “upset or anxiety” caused by the fly-on-the-wall show, before conveniently announcing that it was set to relax cruel partner restrictions from this week.

As for Stephen Donnelly, who meanwhile described the ongoing rules as “particularly distressing” in emergency cases, is he even aware that he’s the Health Minister?

Despite pressure to pull the remaining episodes, the second installment is still scheduled to air on RTÉ One this Wednesday night.

One thing it’s unlikely to deliver is a ratings bump.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy