With two daughters under three and a leading role in labour ward comedy The Delivery Man, Darren Boyd must be quite the childbirth expert. He’s still not entirely sure how everything is pronounced though, he tells Keeley Bolger
When Darren Boyd thinks back on his time filming The Delivery Man, one discussion springs to mind.
“I do remember a far too long conversation about whether ‘vaginal’ was pronounced vag-in-al or vag-eye-nal,” says the 44-year-old, laughing as he recalls how the conversation played out.
“You stand around with producers, someone’s on Google checking, someone’s calling back to the office (to ask how it’s pronounced), and sometimes you sit back and go, ‘This is quite unique...’,” adds the actor who plays Matthew, a former police constable who has re-trained as a midwife in his 30s, in the maternity ward-set comedy.
Unique too, was the characterisation.
“It’s lovely that Matthew’s very sincere about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it,” explains Boyd. “It would have been too obvious, I think, to have jokes at him being clumsy and being awkward as a man. All his dealings with the mums-to-be are done really nicely.”
The series, which also boasts Paddy McGuinness and Fay Ripley among its cast, sees the maternity staff contending with teenage parents, a ‘double dad’ who has two partners in labour and a pregnant prisoner on release.
As a father in real life to two-year-old Eliza and baby Melody, with his American nutritionist wife Amanda, Boyd could draw on his familiarity with maternity wards to play Matthew.
“Both our children were born in NHS hospitals and we had fantastic experiences,” recalls the actor, also known for his roles in Fortitude, Spy, Green Wing and as John Cleese in Holy Flying Circus.
“When Melody was born, the midwife came in at the end of very long shift, and she was as upbeat and selfless and positive and there for us as you could ever hope for. They’re real heroes.”
With just 16 months between them, Boyd’s daughters are very close.
“What’s great is that Eliza never remembers life without Melody,” he says, adding that his eldest daughter is going through a phase of calling him “Dads” and “Darren”, which he jokes leaves him feeling “slightly undermined”.
“They’re growing up together in the truest sense of the word,” he adds. “You can see Eliza’s protective, loving, nurturing energy and Melody just wants to be with Eliza. It’s such a beautiful thing to see.”
As well as everything else, fatherhood has altered the London-based actor’s perspective on being away from home for extended periods of time. Much as he “honours” the travel associated with his job, he’s not as quick to pack his bags and head off.
“But I don’t think it’s just being a father,” adds Boyd with a laugh. “I’m 44 now, I’m a little older and I like being at home.”
Sky crime thriller Fortitude, in which he played creepy Markus, was “great” for Boyd, because filming was “staggered” between London and Iceland.
“The last two or three years for me have really been about me pushing forward with interesting and hopefully diverse output,” he says. “I was very proud to be part of Fortitude, and it’s getting fantastic feedback.”
Feedback means greater recognition, and although Boyd – who acted on stage before working on TV hits Kiss Me Kate and Smack The Pony in the Nineties – admits there’s “some currency in having a profile”, he has never wanted to be a “personality”.
That said, he has been able to use his platform for good. A passionate supporter of anti-bullying campaigns, a few years ago created a post, Future Self, on his blog, inviting people who have been bullied to write a letter to their younger selves. He was prompted to do so after reading a poem written by a teenager who had killed herself after years of bullying.
“I read the poem and it just destroyed me,” he says. “When you have kids, you realise how quickly it goes. It just suddenly felt so close and it broke my heart.
“What’s amazing is the amount of trust when you’re asking people to write to the most wounded part of themselves. But people did it, and did it freely.
“I’d love to find a way to have it as a place for people to go. If I can do something, I will.”
Visit the Future Self post at darrenjboyd.com
The Delivery Man starts on ITV on Wednesday, April 15