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TV Review: The Split (BBC 1, Episode 3, Series 1)

11 June 2018
Appeared in BioNews 953

As avid readers of BioNews will know, I am a hard-to-please reviewer: more than willing to turn on TV, films, plays, radio or books that poorly represent any fertility issues, particularly those with legal dimension. So it is with a heavy heart that I must disappoint this time, dear readers – I love 'The Split'.

The show follows a family of high-flying, female divorce lawyers: the Defoes, whose personal lives are just as turbulent as their warring clients. Hannah Defoe, played by Nicola Walker (you know, Ruth from Spooks), leaves the family firm and shacks up with university friend and handsome Scandinavian, Christie (played by Barry Atsma), much to the dismay of her family and fertility law specialist barrister husband Nathan (played by Stephen Mangan).

Now the show is amazing for many reasons but few relate to fertility. Most relate to quick-witted barbs, fabulous outfits and characters that drink more wine then I do, so I will just encourage you to watch it on BBC iPlayer now. Honestly stop reading, just watch it.

If you are still reading, I will tell you that episode 3 has a great sub-storyline of Jaynie Lee (played by Tamara Lawrance). Jaynie is a young, successful, millionaire business woman being represented by Hannah during her divorce from Elliot Lee (played by Griffin Stevens). The show provides an excellent and interesting embryo twist, Jaynie had cancer and went through chemotherapy, she and Elliot froze embryos before the chemotherapy. Enter the extra divorce drama, Elliot sends a 1am email offering to take £30 million and allowing Jaynie to keep all 'assets', referring to the embryos.

Nathan is called in by Hannah to represent the demanding Jaynie. This sets up a great example of legal issues being explained well in a drama and, more importantly, as a scene full of tension when Nathan and eye-candy Christie come to loggerheads. Nathan clearly advises that the offer isn't valid and not binding in terms of Elliot consenting to the embryos use. Christie believes that Jaynie should take it as a chance of having a baby is better than nothing at all. But as ever, sage Hannah makes it clear it is all about trust.

The show does well in showing the pain Jaynie is going through, in both the divorce and the prospect of not being able to have the family she always dreamed of. There are some poignant moments in which Jaynie's emotion is clear, when she asks if someone is pregnant and when she sees a young child in pram. The storyline ends after an emotionally-charged cross examination of Elliot by Nathan, no further spoilers, except annoyingly we never know what happens to Jaynie and the embryos after Court.

Hopefully, Jaynie's story comes back in series 2, but if not I will still be watching to see who is having affairs with whom. And I am not referring to the divorcing clients.

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