Last Night's TV: My Weird and Wonderful Family, Channel 4
The Blind Me, BBC3

Children are famously inclined to give skewed accounts of their own generation, a charm often exploited by comedians. On the face of it, you'd probably file Aspen Drewitt-Barlow's account of his and his brother's genesis under the category of winsome misunderstandings. "Me and Orlando were made from the same egg," he patiently explained at the beginning of My Weird and Wonderful Family, "but the egg split and then Orlando went in the freezer for three years. Orlando is my identical twin." Not sure that can be correct, Aspen, you thought. Orlando is four years younger than you for one thing. But Aspen had got it right – this unusual family history having come about after Aspen's fathers, Tony and Barrie, had decided to postpone Orlando's birth to a more convenient date. Both boys were the result of a kind of relay-race conception, with the embryos being supplied by a biological mother and then implanted into a surrogate to be carried to term. The arrangement is tricky, borderline illegal in this country but Tony and Barrie, who'd done very well in the cosmetics business, could afford to go to California to hire the necessary uteri and wombs and also fight the resulting court case over their right to be declared the parents.

All this caused quite a bit of fuss 10 years ago, with tabloid outrage and Eamonn Holmes muttering on GMTV about what was "natural". Tony and Barrie received death threats and were accused of purchasing human lifestyle accessories. As they prepared for the arrival of a new addition to the family, Daisy Asquith had gone to see how they were getting on. This time round the biological mother – a Californian catwalk model – had been selected from an online catalogue ("We just went very superficial this time to be quite honest and went for the better looking," said Barrie) and incubation space booked in Donna, a surrogate mother they'd used previously. "There's never any trauma with you because you're such a professional," said Tony, talking to her over the phone to California. The camera cut to his oldest daughter, Saffron, looking enigmatically blank.

It was a slightly tendentious edit that would be very easy, if you were hostile, to interpret as an unstated sorrow. Might this be the trauma that motherhood as mere transaction leads to, you were half invited to ask. It's equally possible, of course, that Saffron – like any child – had got a bit bored with grown-up talk and was wondering when she could get away. True, she did seem sad that her biological mother didn't want to have much to do with her. And it was true too that Barry's attitude to women and childbirth sometimes left something to be desired (rather literally in his case). Flying to America to take delivery of his new babies, he talked of the forthcoming birth: "I'm hoping it's going to be a C-Section... the thought of that baby pushing out like Freddy Krueger... ugh.. (he made a gagging face) it makes me feel faint." But I don't think there was any question that he and Tony loved their children, and had created a family that appeared utterly normal in every respect but their creation. Barry, camp and flamboyantly doting (he bought Saffron a pony and a mink coat for her birthday), will probably embarrass all of them close to death by the time their teens are out, but then what teenager isn't mortified by a parent at some time? And, yes, there might be moments when they miss the presence of a mother, but then that's true of quite a lot of families for other reasons. Revisiting GMTV to show off their new twins, Tonie and Barry found Eamonn Holmes had shifted his position from tactfully critical to ingratiatingly avuncular ("It'll save you a fortune on Sunday," he said to the children condescendingly. "No Mother's Day cards to buy") and Tony made a point about "normality" and "oddity" that struck home. "These kids' parents have been together for 23 years and love each other to bits," he said. "So maybe that's what sets us apart from a lot of families these days."

My Weird and Wonderful Family blurred the lines between the tribulations of being these particular children and the trials of being any child, something that was also true of The Blind Me, which addressed the lives of four blind young people. Were their problems and anxieties exclusively down to their lack of sight or did they come second to the frets and anxieties all teenagers and young people face? Take Dwight, for example, a very engaging young music student impatient to get his first girlfriend, who was seen visiting a Brighton disco with his friends and getting a bit carried away during a chat-up. Dwight certainly isn't the first teenage boy to have misread the signals while coming on to a girl, but it was harder for him to find out, since he had no way to see the SOS signals her eyebrows were flashing at her friends. And Scott and Katy, a blind couple living in London, seemed far more preoccupied with the universal problem of getting a man and a woman's feelings about marriage to align than they did about the difficulties of flat-hunting while blind. Dwight eventually ended up getting over-excited about a blind girl he'd meet years earlier and tracked down through Facebook. It may well end in tears, but if he got through life without making that kind of mistake he really would be a freak.

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
    The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

    Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

    Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
    A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

    A Very British Coup, part two

    New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms