Newest Reviews
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
No Man of God
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Quiet Place Part II, A
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
  Babymother She Shall Have Music Wherever She Goes
Year: 1998
Director: Julian Henriques
Stars: Anjela Lauren Smith, Wil Johnson, Caroline Chikezie, Jocelyn Jee Esien, Don Warrington, Tameka Empson, Diane Bailey, Vas Blackwood, Andrea Francis, Anton Rice, Saffron Lashley, Corinne Skinner-Carter, Suzette Llewellyn, Buckley Ranks
Genre: Musical, Drama, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Anita (Anjela Lauren Smith) is the mother to two young children by their professional singer father Byron (Wil Johnson), but he is not always around as he has to go on tour and has other motives for wandering from her. She harbours a desire to join him on the stage, or even strike out on her own and become an artist herself, but when he invites her to do so she is hampered by nerves and refuses. However, at one big concert for Byron where he is going down a storm, Anita decides, yes, she could do this just as well as her partner does - but will he be her partner for much longer when she realises how friendly he is with his female fans?

Babymother was a television movie designed to be shown on Channel 4, which in 1998 was not mostly reality TV and people commenting on reality TV, but produced its fair share of drama as well. This was proudly proclaimed as Britain's first black musical, cast as it was with an entirely black group of actors, some of whom went on to very respectable careers – Caroline Chikezie and Jocelyn Jee Esien did very well on the small screen, for instance, after appearing here as Anita's pals, as did Tameka Empson as her rival. EastEnders may be looked down on by some of the potential audience, but it did provide regular gigs for many performers.

Indeed, Babymother was looked down on as well, from a great height, at that, perhaps predictably as it took as its heroine a black single mother who seems to be more engaged with her potential showbiz career than she is looking after her kids. Couple that to a very basic rags to riches narrative that had been done to death down the decades, and still is to this day for that matter, and it was as if director and co-writer Julian Henriques was setting himself up for a fall, victim to all sorts of prejudices from the audience who would dismiss the project out of hand. For that reason it is possible to feel protective towards Babymother, at least for what it did differently.

Fair enough, you would not see the fashions the characters wear on many London streets, or anywhere outside of some Afrofuturist alien planet, with its emphasis on material like waterproof plastic or spangly bra tops apparently just the thing to go down the shops in this parallel world, but it did give the proceedings a distinction in its imagery that on a low budget was not such an outrageous idea. Sure, some of the scenes were purely in the kitchen sink tradition, but how far would that apply when your protagonist is stuck in domestic drudgery while sporting shiny turquoise slacks? Again, some found this ridiculous, but it was a visual reminder that Anita regarded herself as a celebrity even before she had attained that level in society.

Every so often, the characters would mime to nineties reggae and dancehall on the soundtrack, and if the dancing was not exactly In the Heights, there was a similar style of placing a spring of colour and music against the backdrop of grey, urban cityscape in a contrast that told us anywhere can be the source of brightness and exuberance, all you needed were the right personalities to create that atmosphere. True, Anita was not always great company, she is selfish and petulant when events do not go her way, and we wonder if she is neglecting her children in favour of some self-important quest to follow an idealistic goal experience teaches us will more likely not finish in fame and fortune. But if the tunes were too polished to be believable as live, they were well-produced, and would have appealed to viewers of her age at the time, if now more of a nostalgia piece. This was at least as notable as the Streetdance movies of the following decade. Music by John Lunn.

[The BFI release Babymother on Blu-ray with these special features:

Presented in High Definiton
We the Ragamuffin (1992, 26 mins): Julian Henriques' urban musical shot and set in Peckham
Julian Henriques and Parminder Vir on Babymother (2021, 44 mins): the director and producer talk about the film's genesis and production history
Anjela Lauren Smith in conversation with Corrina Antrobus (2021, 49 mins): the actress discusses her part as Anita
Carroll Thompson in conversation with Rogan Graham (2021, 32mins): the singer and songwriter discusses her role as music consultant on the film
Archive Q&A / Babymother gallery (2021, 28 mins: an archive Q&A with the filmmakers from 1998 which plays over a selection of images
We the Ragamuffin gallery
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 251 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: