Watching Birdsong With Mother

birdsong bbcOn Sunday night I attempted to watch Birdsong, which is a new BBC drama, with my Mum. It’s an adaptation of a novel by Sebastian Faulks which you may or may not know – that’s not important. What is important is that it’s quite a serious and sad old story, or at least it would be if you didn’t have a running commentary from the person next to you.

Here’s the trailer for the two-part series:

and here’s my Mum’s monologue. She did stop for breathing time now and then, but mostly she just talked through it.

OK, press play. Press play! Where’s my wine? Oh it’s there. Where’s the cat? Oh Mr Bear! What are you doing Mr Bear? Don’t go to sleep, I won’t let you sleep you naughty little kitten!

[Pause for opening credits]

Why is that man singing? Oh my God, it’s awful. I hate Sebastian Faulks – I haven’t liked a single thing he’s written, not even Endleby.

[Me: It’s Engleby. Please be quiet.]

[Enter Eddie Redmayne]

OH MY GOD! What’s wrong with his lips? Why are they so huge? Is there something wrong with them? Hold on – what’s wrong with her lips? Why have they both got such strange lips?

Oh, he’s a solider now. In the war. He looks better as a soldier.

She doesn’t look old enough to have those children.

[I agree]

Look how many moles she has on her face. She has so many moles! Now he has loads of moles, it’s like they’re infectious! The moles are spreading!

[Clemence Poesy takes off her brassiere]


[Almost falls of chair. Mother, not Clemence Poesy.]

She is absolutely COVERED in moles! Oh, they’re going to have sex. Ugh. UGH.

[Me: general murmurs of agreement that the sex is rather unnecessary. We are prudish!]

What is he doing to her? Oh that is not necessary! Against a tree? There are people behind in the background, look!

[Both of us shout at TV: THERE’S SOMEONE BEHIND YOU!]

[Cut to trenches, WW1, bombs going off and people getting shot.]

Oh dear. He’s dead now.

[Me: I bet he’s not.]

No, look, they’re burying him.

[Me: then what would the second part be about? I bet he’s alive and his eyes will flicker as they start to dig his hole.]

No, he’s definitely dead.

[Me: he’s alive. I bet you anything.]


[Redmayne’s eyes flicker at the last moment.]

[Both: HE’S ALIVE!]

[End credits.]

Mum: that was rubbish.

[Me: watch it next week?]


So. If you missed the first part, there’s a quick summary for you – and a spoiler, of course! Should have warned about the spoiler before I started, really…

*disclaimer: I’d like to point out that none of the above opinions are mine – Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy are both “proper lookers”, neither are that freckly/moley and Redmayne’s lips are a thing of wonder. He once lay on my couch, and that’s all I’ll say about the matter…. My Mum heckles just about anything that isn’t Friends or Lark Rise to Candleford!


  1. “PHILTRUM” that indention between the lip and nose. It was a tie as to whose face was more distracting. His bee-stung lips and freckles or her moles and PHILTRUM.

    So, I’m wondering, if her mouth gets really popular, will plastic surgeons start scooping our deep PHILTRUMS above people’s mouths, to create really dramatic, exaggerated Cupid’s Bow pouts like Clemence’s?

    Oh…they are already doing it?

  2. And HER lips, too….that little “cereal bowl” thing between the mouth and nose. What is that body part called? I kept looking to see if hers caught airborne particles, like belly buttons create lint. It was just “distracting,” as your Mum pointed out.


  3. Hi Ruth! They just premiered “Birdsong” in the US last night. I was glued to the TV watching it. Eddie Redmayne is quite the leading man. Gosh, he’s such a wonderful actor. I loved the first installment. Part two airs next Sunday, but I couldn’t wait and I found it on Youtube. Stayed up till 1AM to finish watching it. It was so sad, romantic, and tragic. Now I want to read the book. But throughout the movie, I kept remembering this blog post you wrote back in Jan. It made me crack-up. Eddie Redmayne was on your sofa? Wish you would share the back-story!

  4. I hope you realize that we will all riot if we don’t get next week’s installment now, word for word. Your mum sounds like so much fun:)

  5. This is hilarious! I don’t know if you guys have Saturday Night Live in the UK, but, this would be perfect as a skit. I found the bit about the moles most hilarious of all. Please write others just like it!!

  6. Thanks for sharing this! Too funny…and rather true.
    hehhe…at least when I watch movies with my dear mother.

  7. Nono you gotta read the book after watching, because if you read the book before watching then all the way through it’s ‘Well they missed that part, I didn’t think that character looked like that, that bit never happened, etc.’ Or at least that’s what I do. I’m picky though :P

  8. @Ruth My mother blames this approach on a pre-Cosmo age (as I die of embarrassment)

  9. Imagine watching it with your dad, a whole new level of cringe :S

  10. yes, well … let’s just say he also *ahem* seems to think that speed is an asset.

  11. LOL! I think I need to watch this at yours, hilarious! Thankfully, I watched it alone- it would have been seriously awkward with my mum :D I haven’t read the book, but it looks interesting- although I have a feeling I’ll hate Clemence Posey’s character later (is it me or does she seem a little….I don’t know- Odd? Strange?)….

    • @Saara yes, I too am very suspicious about her character.. I think I may read the book AFTER watching, the wrong way round! x

  12. oh my he really does have strange lips. he`s scaring me.

  13. HAHA totally want to watch this after that commentary, try watching black swan with my mum- horrendously awkward with the lesbian scene ‘why is she doing that to her emily’ i just had to pretend to be on my phone basically throughout the whole movie.

    • @Emily haha!! I’m sure she must have known… I dread to think what they are like watching something TOGETHER! ; )

  14. we just watched this on iplayer: very uncomfortable sex scenes!

Scroll To Top