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Pramface: Playing the pregnant teenager

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Scarlett Alice Johnson Scarlett Alice Johnson | 06:55 UK time, Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pramface centres around two unlikely teenagers who are thrown together after a night of post A-level partying.

I play Laura Derbyshire, the very unlucky pregnant 18-year-old by the even unluckier 16-year-old Jamie Prince.

Both them and their families are forced kicking and screaming into bringing their lives together, into one big unplanned and unprepared-for melting pot.

The script written by Chris Reddy was, as an actor, one of those rare gems that I knew I would love every minute of making.

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Exams are over, the drinks are flowing and across the room Jamie sees Laura...

Most days I laughed so hard my face ached, my stomach cramped and my mascara ran.

Sean Michael Verey who plays Jamie, and with whom I had some of my funniest scenes, shares a similar sense of humour to me.

Which was both a blessing and a curse. Most of the time I was giggling just reading the scenes so by the shoot I was normally in bits.

I resorted to trying not to look the other cast in the eye whilst filming because I was constantly stifling a smirk. Not an easy task, and not entirely helpful to the others who were normally trying to control their own fits too.

And of course Angus Deayton and Anna Chancellor who play Laura's not-too-enthusiastic parents were just funny, brilliant people to work with.

Laura's mum (Anna Chancellor) drinks a glass of wine

Anna Chancellor as Laura's mum

Angus has an amazing quick wit in a quiet and really understated manner that he makes you giggle when you least expect it.

And Anna being a tall, beautiful and experienced actress has an amazing presence, which she brilliantly cuts through with her own brand of humour.

So basically when you combine those cast members with Dylan Edwards, Yasmin Paige, Ben Crompton, Bronagh Gallagher and Emer Kenny, along with a wonderfully observed script, I was a wreck.

I even, I am ashamed to say, got sent off set one day because I couldn't control my hysterics. A BIG no-no.

Whilst we did have a great time filming, I hope audiences appreciate Pramface and get what it is about.

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Jamie has the contraception chat with friends Mike and Beth

I think it is fair to say that we didn't want to let it take itself too seriously, or for it to be making in any way passing judgment on teen pregnancy.

I hope we managed to avoid some of the clichés relating to it. It was important to me for instance that Laura wasn't a down-and-out young mum from an inner city estate, but a well educated, well-informed young woman with a bright future.

After all, the point of the pregnancy isn't a comment on the youth of today. It's a catalyst for two unlikely characters to be pulled together, in various bizarre and awkward ways.

That said, no one wants to be flippant about such an emotive subject and I think due regard was paid to the many dilemmas the twosome face.

I think some of the best comedy out there walks a fine line between humour and drama and I'd like to think that audiences might recognise that in Pramface.

It felt to me to be a script full of wit but heart too, which is why I guess I enjoyed making it so much. And if people can laugh even just a hundredth of the amount I did when we made it then I'll be very happy.

Scarlett Alice Johnson plays Laura Derbyshire in Pramface.

Pramface begins on Thursday, 23 February at 9pm on BBC Three. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

You can follow Jamie's best friend Mike on Twitter and also visit the Pramface Facebook page. Read a BBC Three blog post by actor Dylan Edwards who plays Mike here.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    There is so much wrong with this programme - summed up I think by saying we have a 26 year old we're supposed to believe is 18!?! If you want to re-invent Grange Hill for what you imagine to be the 21C do it on cbeebies - don't clutter up adult TV with this sort of mindless transatlantic drivel.

  • Comment number 2.

    @Ivlivs - BBC3 adult TV? Try BBC1 ,2 or 4 - You don"t know what your talking about. 3's channel identity has been clear for a while. Since when does an actor have to be the same age as the character?!! Next week you can get busy on the Jewellery channel instead!

  • Comment number 3.

    Scarlett was really good in this - as good in Adulthood - and shows a gift for comedy. The premise is similar to the US series "Accidentally On Purpose" (with younger protagonists), but it works. And let's forget about demographics. If something is good, it shouldn't matter who it's aimed at.

  • Comment number 4.

    I really enjoyed this,I do not think we should take shows made for our entertainment too seriously we all work hard and I for one like to chill and watch programmes that make you chuckle once in a while.Really look forward to next episode .If you have not seen it yet watch it as I have advised my family to.

  • Comment number 5.

    BBC 3 should be renamed The Adolescent/Smutty Channel. I saw the programme and whilst I understand I am not in the target audience, I am saddened to think that the BBC think that is all the 'younger' people want to watch. Are there no 'young adults' who have the ability to think above their waistlines?

  • Comment number 6.

    i absolutely loved this programme, can't wait till the next episode! definitely one for people my age group 18.

    My favourite bit was when Laura rang the wrong number to tell Jamie she was pregnant and they were all sat in the car with slapped butt faces!! love it. My kind of comedy

  • Comment number 7.

    Great series - also aimed at parents (squirming at the thought that this could be about *their* children in a few years time).

    I first heard about it when I heard stifled yelps and shrieks from wife downstairs. She could barely recount the plot without dissolving into a puddle of giggles (horrified - I thought she was describing a documentary).

    I caught last night's episode and got dragged into it too. Sod it, I'm hooked.

  • Comment number 8.

    I totally love this programme! I'm actually counting the hours until it's on next. For me it's the same kind of humour as American Pie or The Inbetweeners with a little bit of Eastenders thrown in. Sounds like a weird combination but somehow it works! Must say I personally find Mike a little annoying at times but I think that's a) down to me being a bit of a prude and b) because that's his character. Every other character is really funny for me though! As far as the issue with a 26 year old playing an 18 year old, I think it would be ridiculous to have someone so young do a sex scene like in episode 1 and if you look at any programme (atleast rated 15 or above) with anyone 14+ they are generally played by actors in their twenties think Inbetweeners, Waterloo Road anything like that because actors have to be a certain age to say certain words, do certain things on screen + child employment laws and the fact that actual 18 year old are doing their A levels/Drama School. Seems silly for people to have a problem with it. I say bravo BBC3 for a hilarious programme with that much needed heart!

  • Comment number 9.

    I think this has been a fantastic show so far, and long may it continue.
    personally i hope to see Laura and jamie make it work and we can see some of the less petulant and more grownup laura.
    hopefully they move to uni, where jamie can work?
    and mike is brilliant!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    I think this is well scripted, directed and cast. And funny but not silly! My main comment here is about Scarlett. I think she's a very fine actress, subtle in the way she responds as character. Honest and truthful - and yes, I know it's a comedy! She reminds me of the best of Sandra Bullock (and I know she is castigated, but in While You Were Sleeping - 1995 - and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - 2011 - Sandra shows just how fine a screen actor she is. And Scarlett has similar abilities. I hope her agents work hard to find her a big part because she surely has the talent.

  • Comment number 11.

    I love this program. As im 18, i understand completely where Laura would be coming from. Teenagers make silly mistakes when drinking is involved - and i think this has taught me to be more sensible with alcohol.
    I look forward to watching Pramface each week and am hoping for anoher series. Its never easy seeing a young person pregnant, but im hoping by putting this out there will help some people see teenagers who make silly mistakes are willing to work hard at making sure everything goes smoothly for their child.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am in absolutely love with this programme :D this is what my Thursdays have been about since it started :D i hope that isn't the end of it for good!

  • Comment number 13.

    Number 1 and 5 - What's wrong with you? I'm 50 and accidentally blundered across this programme. It's amusing, well made and excellently acted. There is genuine warmth and chemistry between the two main characters and the rest of the cast contribute hugely to a decent half hour of light entertainment. You don't have to be an adolesent to recognise writing and acting talent in a programme about adolesents!
    There is very little "smut" in the series but there is well constructed and funny study of the shock, awkwardness and discovery of teenage relationships and pregnancy and family relationships. Back to the 1950s for both of you while the rest of us look forward to the second series.

  • Comment number 14.

    I also agree with 10 peterthepiper, in that Scarlet Alice Johnson could well go on the great things.I also wouldn't be surprised if Sean Michael Verrey had a rosey future. I hope he ends up in decent film work rather than soaps.

  • Comment number 15.

    Pramface isn't at all what I'd normally watch, but it's so well written I was hooked 10 minutes in. It hits on so many of the issues of that age group and brings back vivid memories of my own time at that age. The script writer and director deserve a pat on the back for this!

  • Comment number 16.

    Thanks to everyone who has commented. I am so pleased that you liked Pramface. And that people laughed!!! Phew.
    I know our writer Chris Reddy and the other cast are also really happy that their work on the show has been commented on. Thank you for your lovely compliments.
    No 10 Peterthepiper I LOVE you for saying what you did, please be my number one fan? I must remind myself to show my agent what you wrote too :)
    As for the character Vs actor age stuff... what can I say? Actors always play roles that aren't like themselves; age is just another part of that.
    I really had the best time playing Laura, and am so excited we get to do it all over again for series two! I have no idea where it will lead storyline-wise. Please let them bring me the scripts soon. I want to find out!
    I am also really looking forward to getting back to bonny Scotland again as I loved staying and working in Edinburgh. It's such a gorgeous city.
    For those of you who are big fans of the show, the DVD should be out for series one in October. Until then please keep getting any Pramface virgins to get watching!
    Series two here we come :)



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