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Nemone Lethbridge's play 'Baby Blues' on BBC television: maternal mental illness narratives, stigma and support in 1970s Britain

Dr Fabiola Creed, CHM Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Wellcome Trust funded project The Last Taboo of Motherhood, which explores the history of maternal mental illness in twentieth-century Britian, has had an article published in Women's History Review.

Read the full article here


In December 1973, the BBC aired Nemone Lethbridge’s auto-fictional play 'Baby Blues' as one of their influential ‘Play for Today’ (PfT) series (1970–1984). This article explores the impact of Lethbridge’s controversial television play, which drew attention to taboo topics, such as infertility, caesarean section childbirth, infanticide, suicide, and, separately, motherhood ageism and dismissive medical professionals. It will illustrate how Lethbridge’s play 'Baby Blues' was part of a broader change in discussing maternal mental illness and creating support for women experiencing postnatal depression and psychosis, instigated by the Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM). The article situates 'Baby Blues' within the wider history of the PfT series, with its focus on socio-political issues, and highlights the challenges Lethbridge faced in bringing the play to production. It analyses the mixed responses to the play, many of which were critical, and how this led to Lethbridge’s launching of a grass-roots self-help group, Depressives Anonymous (DA), in 1974, which was—and still is—a long-lasting legacy of 'Baby Blues'. The article builds on the history of maternal mental illness as explored in women’s narratives and its association with stigma, support and feminism, alongside the British Broadcasting Corporation’s television series PfT, in 1970s Britain.

Mon 18 Mar 2024, 10:53 | Tags: Article Announcement