‘The juggle is real’: medical drama Maternal captures working mothers in the raw

Maternal, ITV’s new drama about motherhood and practising medicine, opens with an alarming scene of choreographed chaos. Three female doctors, overwhelmed and hideously

underslept, attempt to feed their rascal children breakfast, dress them for day care, and separate them from their overspilling toy boxes in time for drop-off. For each, it’s the

first day back from maternity leave, though this hectic fire drill, or a version of it, will recreate itself every morning, just as it does in homes dotted throughout the UK and

beyond (my own included). Maryam (played by Parminder Nagra) is a paediatric registrar returning to work after almost two years of continuous maternity leave. She dares to ask

aloud the question that can doom a working mum – or any stripe of new mum, for that matter – to crushing guilt. “What if I hate being away from them?” she shouts to her husband

across the roof of a car echoing with baby screams – “or love being away from them – that’s worse, right?”