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Former EastEnders star Jill Halfpenny admits that filming the BBC’s new parenting drama In The Club (BBC1, Tuesday, Aug 5) brought back memories of her own time in labour…

Tell us about Diane, the character you play in In The Club?

“Diane’s history is that she’s tried for a baby for 10 years then had a miscarriage, so she and husband Rick, played by Will Mellor, decided to adopt. When we first meet Diane she’s pregnant, which is a shock to them both – but it means the world to her to finally be having her own little ‘miracle’.”

What are Diane and Rick like as husband and wife?

“Rick and Diane are a solid couple. They love each other very much and nothing bad has every really happened between them, they’ve just quite happily got on with life.”

In the first episode, Diane receives some surprising news about her pregnancy, doesn’t she?

“Diane goes for a scan, where she finds out she’s having twins! So, after the shock of finding out she’s having one miracle child, now she’s having two. Family is everything to Diane, so she’s really excited – but this is a drama so obviously nothing is ever going to be that straight-forward…”

Why’s that?

“Well, Diane discovers Rick actually lost his job five months ago and basically he’s been lying to her every morning pretending he’s going to work. Diane can’t believe the man she thought she knew has done this. Rick assures her everything will be all right, but then she drops the bombshell that it’s not going to be all right, they’re having twins!”

How does Rick react?

“Suddenly the pressure and the stress of having four children become a big load on his shoulders – he completely panics and does something very drastic. As a result, Diane’s life starts falling apart and everything around her is not what it seemed. As the story unfolds, Rick and Diane’s dream becomes a nightmare.”

How does Diane bond with the women at the Parentcraft antenatal class?

“All the women who attend Parentcraft have really bonded – it’s where they can have a good chat and feel normal. It’s clear they are a really tight bunch of women; they’ve all got very different circumstances but the classes are almost like their lifeline.”

How did you find filming with the fake pregnancy bump?

“The prosthetic stomach that I wear when Diane’s being given the ultrasound scan, which looks like real skin, is very, very heavy. You have to hold that in the same way you would hold yourself if you were really pregnant. Thankfully, I had another one that was more like a sponge.”

Did filming In The Club bring back memories of being pregnant with your own son Harvey (now six)?

“I never went to any antenatal classes and I regret it because I was absolutely clueless when it came to being in labour. My labour was long and arduous. It wasn’t the way I’d imagined it to be. I’d decided I didn’t want an epidural – then 36 hours later I’m screaming: “Give me an epidural!”‘


Click here to see photos of the cast of In The Club