Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: The Secret Life of Babies



By Doug Coutts

The Secret Life of Babies … In which Martin Clunes tells us everything we already knew, and some things we didn’t, about the first two years of a baby’s life.

For instance, babies are born without kneecaps. I didn’t know that – I’d always assumed people without kneecaps had fallen foul of religious extremist groups. But no, we arrive patella-free and they grow in later when we’ve stopped falling over so much. Only then, when it’s safe, do the kneecaps sprout. Imagine the disappointment: “Bugger, we’re in Belfast.”

Back to the show. Luckily for the faint-hearted and/or lap-diners we’re spared the gory details of the arrival hall and launch into the fun facts, of which there are many.

For instance, babies can’t breathe through their mouths – this enables feeding without have to pause to suck in some air and it’s good for swimming.

They’re born with many more bones than their parents, apart from dem kneebones, and are able to produce all the speech sounds found in every language in the world, although getting them into some sort of order takes a while. In fact some never master it and are destined to become Prime Ministers.

Martin Clunes has no such problem with getting the sounds in the right order. He practically purrs his way through an engaging script and makes it his own with charming and carefully rehearsed ad libs.

It’s worth watching the show just to listen to him, and having cute kids falling over just adds to the enjoyment.

It’s not all beer and skittles. It’s a complicated business putting a baby together and sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. The Secret World of Babies handles that aspect as well with grace and a light touch – if it’s mawkish sentimentality you’re after, try Newshub.

Secret Life Of Babies

What other critics said:

“We had The Secret Life of Cats. Now this: The Secret Life of Babies, made by the same people. It’s the same show, really. With the same greeting card cuteness about it. The same soppy narration from Martin Clunes, who, come to think of it, has something of a cat and quite a lot of a baby about him. The same piano’n’strings score, to accompany the tugs to the heartstrings, and the stories of little miracles.” — The Guardian.

“This show reveals what we experienced [as babies] and, if you have a baby, what they’re experiencing right now. Perhaps alarmingly for new parents with a tendency to swear, we learn that they understand three times as many words as they can say. All this is accompanied by shot after shot after shot of babies crawling about and looking unbelievably cute.” — The Huffington Post.

Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years. He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at:

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