The incomparable Clive James sums up parenting better than the BBC's uninspiring fly-on-the-wall series about new mums and dads

Syler, partner Mo and baby Amr-Ace featured in the The Baby Has Landed
Syler, partner Mo and baby Amr-Ace featured in the The Baby Has Landed
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It seems a bit pointless writing this column this week, as nothing I could write could get within several miles of the TV reviews of Clive James, who died last week.


Watching The Baby Has Landed (BBC2, Wednesdays, 9pm) brought to mind a Clive James quote I saw, among the many tributes to him online.

DJ and TV presenter Lauren Laverne posted something he said to her during an interview, when her first child was very small.

“The thing you need to know about parenting,” he told her, “is that you can’t get it ‘right’, you can only get it ‘done’.”

The new parents featured in this fly-on-the-wall series should remember that.

I think James meant that, while you worry about doing things ‘right’, you miss out on giving your children love, nurturing and, most important of all, attention.

Tom, whose grand-daughter Syler had just given birth, gave similar advice to Syler’s partner Mo: “You’ve got to buckle down and get on with it, the pair of you.”

While it was interesting – in a sort of Peeping Tom fashion – to see how other people lived, the first episode didn’t inspire anything, other than a feeling of schadenfreude.

I’ve been through all this, I thought, all the sleepless nights and the vomit and the poo. Oh, the poo. Like a Farrow & Ball colour palette, it ranges from Dayroom Yellow to Sap Green and on to Tanner’s Brown.

But then you remember the tantrums and the tears, and guiding that tiny baby through life – hopefully setting them on the right path before they leave the house –and you realise the tough bit is still to come.

You just hope these new lives will turn out to be as well-lived as that of Clive James.

I have binge-watched Gold Digger (BBC1, Tuesdays, 9pm, all episodes on iPlayer). It didn’t play out in the way I imagined from the first couple of episodes, and you can take that as a good thing,

The best episode of MasterChef The Professionals (BBC2, Tues-Thurs, 8pm) is always the Thursday, when the critics turn out to be cuddly and charming, and Gregg Wallace is nowhere to be seen.