“ Channel: ITV 1. The Bad Mother's Handbook tells the story of one year in the lives of three unforgettable women. Karen (Catherine Tate), her teenage daughter Charlie (Holly Grainger) and Karen's mother Nan (Anne Reid). Both hilarious and wise, it is a clear-eyed look at motherhood and childhood, from the moment the condom breaks, to the moment you hear your baby's first cry. The realisation that no two mothers are alike, and that ultimately love is the most important thing of all „
The Bad Mother's Handbook for ITV was a made for TV film based on the book of the same name by Kate Long.
I thought I had read the book a while back, but after watching this film last night, I realised I actually hadn't and it was a different Kate Long book I had read! So I am afraid I cannot comment in this review about the transformation from book to screen! So please don't mark down for that! The book is by Kate Long and can be purchased in most book shops or from Amazon.
The film was on ITV on a one off special in February 2007 and was released on DVD after that. I hadn't ever heard of the TV film which lasts 90 minutes until I was looking on Robert Pattinson's IMDB profile when writing about the Twilight films, and noticed he had starred in this, having thought I had read the book, I decided I would go out and find the DVD.
I finally got around to watching it last night so I thought I would write a quick review on it!
The film stars some quite big names in Britain:
Catherine Tate, Anne Reid, Holly Grainger, Robert Pattinson, Steve John Shepard all have large parts in the film, but for all you Robert Pattinson lovers out there...although Pattinson's character has a large impact on the outcome of the film, he doesn't play a large part in the film, so please don't go out and watch this thinking he is the main character!
The story is about a mother Karen Cooper and her family, her mother who has Alzeimer's, her 17 year old daughter Charlotte who causes more trouble than she is worth! And their lives together.
Charlotte/Charlie is doing her A Levels and her mother has her life completely mapped out for her, she will leave Bolton where they live with 5 A grades and go to York University where she will live her life before meeting a wonderful man, a doctor, a lawyer or someone as equally sucessful, and then have children. But Charlotte isn't as caught up in having her life spelled out for her. And when she get's her first boyfriend, she makes short work of going against her mother's advice and jumping into bed with him.
She soon finds out she is pregnant with his child and when he says he wants nothing to do with it, she confides in the new guy Daniel Gale, a posh Doctor to be with geeky glasses and a birds nest of hair, not her usual type of friend, he soon becomes her only outlet who is always there for her when she needs him to be, especially when her mother disowns her for doing exactly as she did herself.
(Don't worry I'm not spoiling the film here, this all happens in the first 10 minutes of the film and sets the story up!)
When her mother get's her own problems, Charlie get's on with her pregnancy alone with only her friend Dan there to help to out.
The film is really quite good for a made for TV film, which can sometimes be very weak. This film is very good with a great number of characters, not too many to confuse us, but enough to keep the story going, as I said I actually haven't read the book so I don't know how well it keeps to the books story, but as a film it's excellent.
Catherine Tate is brilliant as the mother in the film, she plays a great part and makes the film very funny along with bringing up real issues which happen in everyday life for normal families all over the country.
It makes some good points and makes you really think about your life, which I didn't expect from the film!
The film has definitely made me want to go out and buy the book, and I am actually going onto Amazon now to see where I can get it!!!
The DVD is available from Amazon, but isn't always in stock,, I haven't actually seen it anywhere else so you might have to be lucky to find it!!! ITV player may have it...but I haven't looked so I'm not sure!
All in all the film is great if you can get it on DVD!
The Bad Mothers Handbook By Kate Long
The Bad Mothers Handbook is based on the book, written by the talented Kate Long. Women of every generation will relate to and enjoy this truely wonderful story, that is jam packed full of the rollercoaster emotions that all us mums are capable of experiencing.
The story is set in 1997 and tells the tale of three generations of one familys women. All three women make up one household in a small fictitious village near Wigan. Kate Long successfully manages to tell the tale through each characters very different perspective.
Charlotte is seventeen and is in the process of taking her levels. She is struggling to understand the world around her whilst trying to work out where she fits in to the scheme of things. The confusion in her life is added to when she suddenly finds herself having to cope with a pregnancy that was completely unplanned.
Karen (Charlottes Mum) has been divorced from Charlottes father for a number of years. She works as a part time classroom assistant at the local primary school she attended as a child. She had planned on going to university only she found herself pregnant with Charlotte at the age of seventeen. She now juggles working part time with looking after her elderly Mother. She is determined that daughter Charlotte, will go to university and live the life that she once aspired to herself.
The character of Nan brings warmth, compassion and humour to the book. Nan struggles to make sense of the past and the present in a mind that is slightly muddled. She may struggle to clarify events but she has the advantage of wisdom that only a woman of her age holds.
Kate Long use of humour is quite brilliant, especially in some of the awkward subjects that are covered throughout the story. The humour is used in a sensitive way, in order not to ridicule the characters. She broaches a range of sensitive subjects ranging from Charlotte losing her virginity, Nans elderly dementia, Changing Nans colostomy bag and Karens discovery that she is adopted. The language, dialect and local knowledge she uses really makes the characters come to live in the viewers mind.
Kate Long tells a wonderful story that has you addicted from the very start. This is a compelling watch that explores the complex dynamics of the relationship between three generations of one familys woman. Definitely worth watching!
This drama that was shown on ITV1 19th Feb 2007 had me instantly glued to my chair. I had seen the adverts for the programme but they hadn't made me think that I needed to allocate and hour and a half to watching the television, however last night I was sat with a cup of tea when this programme began.
Based on the novel by Kate Long this show had great characters that you could easily relate to each one and the trauma that they each appear to be going through and I was truly glad I switched to ITV to watch this as it is one of the best dramas shown on itv1
KAREN played by Catherine Tate.
In her 30s, divorced and working as a teaching assistant at Bank Top Primary School and suffocating in her cramped council house with her daughter and ailing mother. Riddled with bitterness that her mother made her keep her daughter Charlotte at the age of 16 ruining her plans to go to university and become a big success she finds it hard not to let slip who bitter she feels towards her daughter and mother when it all gets to much.
When her boss Leo offers her the opportunity to get away from it all on a school trip to Paris she jumps at the chance and sets out to organise everything for her trip including getting a passport, only to discover that she needs a copy of her birth certificate which contains the secret that she is adopted.
CHARLOTTE (Charlie) played by Holly Grainger
Reminds Karen of what she used to be like, Intelligent, independent and lots of ambition.
Charlotte at just 17 years shows that she is determined to go to a great university and become successful. As with most teenage girls she is not as clued up as her mum thinks that she is and seems to be going out with the biggest loser in the village Paul who appear to have one thing only on his mind.
NAN (Nancy) played by Anne Reid
Nan is a lovely character that reminds me of my nan all those years ago, a great support to Karen when she discovered that she was pregnant and comforted her through her divorce and even helped to buy the house they all live together in but as a sufferer from Alzheimer's she is driving Karen insane and only Charlotte can relate to her and confide in her.
Nan definately knows who she is and where she has come from and this is one thing she will never forget as we discover this in the programme.
STEVE played by Steve John Shepherd
Divorced over ten years ago, he still hopes that one day Karen will take him back. He looks really young to be a father but maybe its the moustache he has it just looks unreal. As with most men he is charming and laid-back, he thinks the world of his daughter Charlotte, but at the same time is terrified of her but if ever there are problems he doesn't falter in showing his macho behaviour!!
LEO played by Steve Pemberton
Headmaster Leo has had a crush on Karen since she joined the school as a classroom assistant. Karen also feels the same but between them they never seem to get it together, Leo is not the most subtle of men when he invites Karen out its in the company of his other friends which causes Karen to feel disappointed.
DANIEL played by Robert Pattinson
Originally from Guildford, 17 year-old Daniel has just moved into the area and has no friends and looks like somewhat of a geek and when Charlotte is asked to show him around and introduce him to everybody he is looked upon as somewhat of a loser by the others. Desperate to escape his boring home-life and bickering parents, he's looking for someone who sees the world in the same way. Someone like Charlotte.
As you may have guessed there are 3 pretty central characters in this drama Karen, Charlotte and Nan, each one has their own problems and living in such a confined space it is only a short period of time before it all comes to a head.
After discovering that she is adopted Karen feels void, she realises that she has lived her complete life as a lie, unsure what to do next she decides a night out with Leo at the local pub is the answer, she puts on her red shoes and a glam outfit and meets him in the local pub only to discover he had been there earlier with a group of his friends, and she feels instantly disappointed, she sets about drinking on an empty stomach and easting 2 bags of peanuts in the ladies,almost chokes on them and gets accused of being a bullimic. Karen quickly drinks herself into oblivion and ends up being sick in front of Leo outside the pub, great date she thinks to herself.
Meanwhile Charlotte is also struggling to keep a secret, recently dumped by her boyfriend Paul she throws herself into her studies and keeps herself busy with entertaining and chaperoning Daniel.
As she is studying something catches her eye, the dusty web covered boxes of Tampax, was it really that long since she had a period? Confused, worried and no-one to confide in she asks Daniel what the common signs of pregnancy are, they all match with how she is feeling and she explains that she is worried that she could be pregnant. Daniel does the sensible thing and ventures out to get a pregnancy test for her it confirms one thing...she is pregnant taking her mood out on Daniel he retaliates with "Don't take it out on me, I'm not the one that got you pregnant"
Daniel persuades Charlotte to tell her mum, she knows that she has to but deep down this confident 17 year old is scared.
Nan stuggling to cope with the fact her daughter now knows the truth, she avoids answering her daughter's many questions when they are asked but later confides all when Karen is out of ear shot so we get to see the story of Karen's adoption, but Karen does not find this out until later in the story.
Karen decides her mum will not be able to give her the answers that she needs and sets on a quest to find her birth mother and get the questions answered by her.
Meanwhile Charlotte struggles to hide her pregnancy from her mother and one day, by accident her mother notices her daughters increasing stomach and knows, she has made the same mistake as her, there is no support for Charlotte as Karen creates an arguement telling her daughter that she is stupid for making the same mistake that she did and that she too would have a ruined life.
Nan overhears the arguement and wanders in and thinks that a new baby will be wonderful, Karen is not impressed by this and tells her mother to leave them alone, but even Nan can see that all Charlotte needs is love and support not bitterness and resentment thrown back at her. Karen tells her that she wants nothing more to do with them in the heat of the moment and refuses to have anything to do with Charlotte's forthcoming baby demanding she have an abortion which Charlotte refuses point blank.
Charlotte knows the options available to her and is a clever girl she has been to seek help from the medical centre and checked out all of her options, she has even confided in her ex that got her pregnant only to be told he wants nothing to do with her.
Charlotte knows she wants this baby and noone is going to change her mind.
Nan is Charlotte's support attending the appointments with her and offering her advice and love, something Karen should be doing for her daughter the way that Nan gave it to her, but Karen believes that Charlotte's dreams are now over and her life will be dominated by nappies and demands.
Daniel is still very much in Charlotte's life and they seem to get closer and closer
Not one to spoil the ending I will not say what happens, but Catherine Tate is a real credit to this drama and plays her part well as does Holly Grainger.
I loved this show as I found it eay to relate to the characters and the story was so realistic, Catherine Tate made a great character and provided an excellent performance. All of the characters appeared to bond well with each other which led to this show being so successful.
I would say that this programme is definately more for the girls and not so much the boys as women would find the storylines much easier to relate to, maybe because many of us women experience the feelings and traumas that the characters go through in the programme.
I am so keen on watching this again I am currently searching ITV's schedules just so I can enjoy it all over again.