IS IT Jodie Foster’s high profile Golden Globes speech that is responsible for the sudden rush of wannabe-childstar mothers contacting the makers of Call the Midwife?
New parents and expectant mums have been phoning and emailing in droves to ask if their precious bumps and newborns can appear in the BBC drama.
Finding babies for the first series was much trickier, revealed Heidi Thomas, the Liverpool-born screenwriter behind the series based on the based on the memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth.
The show’s producers had to resort to to trauling hospital maternity wings for potential cast members, she said, as new-born babies tend not to be on the books of modelling agencies.
Up until now it has been down to second assistant director Ben Rogers and his team to book them in for filming before they have made the slippery journey down the birth canal.
Being coated in a paste of sudocrem and oil or being made to look womb-fresh through the application of a sugar-based red colouring isn’t showbiz at its most glamorous, but even the brightest stars have to start somewhere. And it’s high achievement indeed to have your own page on the International Movie Database months before you’ve cut your first tooth.
Fortunately for gossip columnists, the paparazzi and practitioners of schadenfreude, not all child stars turn out like Jodie Foster, enjoying a steady but successful career from her first TV commercial at the age of three to accepting the Cecil B DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment” with a speech that has won applause and bewilderment in equal measure.
Despite making more than 50 onscreen appearances before attending college, including hosting Saturday Night Live at the age of 14, she managed to remain admirably but boringly professional.
Not so for Drew Barrymore, who incidentally beat Foster’s youngest ever Saturday Night Live presenter record at the even more precocious age of seven.
Although she managed to sort her life out and today enjoys a solid acting career, after making her film debut at five, starring in ET at seven and winning a Golden Globe nomination at nine, she was drinking by 11 and in rehab by 13.
Now you may be thinking, as you stuff your 12-week scan into a manilla envelope and address it to Media City, that appearing on Call the Midwife is hardly in the flashing red, sirens wailing danger zone of child stardom.
It’s a lovely show about lovely people cycling around delivering cute little babies and eating afternoon tea. It’s hardly the top grossing film of the decade with all the pressures of fame that would bring.
But don’t forget the cautionary tale of the Milky Bar Kid, who went from biting the corners off white chocolate on camera to alcohol abuse.
At the last count, John Cornelius was a happily married carpenter with two children but it took him a while to get there. After appearing in the Nestle adverts from 1974-78, he span out of control until his late-20s when his mum booked him into rehab.
That’s a phone call you wouldn’t imagine making when you’re booking your bump in for prenatal acting classes.