The Film

An innovative “reality drama” format: the background story is scripted and filmed as pure drama, but when real professionals enter the story, they have to take decisions thinking on their feet - and what they decide determines what happens next. Ultimately a high court judge, not a screenwriter decides the final outcome.

Two couples go for fertility treatment to a British IVF clinic on the same day. One couple is black, the other white. A lab technician thinks he might have mixed up their embryos, and confesses his uncertainty to the IVF team.

The white woman becomes pregnant but the black woman does not. The (real) IVF consultant wants to tell both couples about the suspected mix-up, but is astounded when his (real) hospital lawyer tells him that under British law, he can only inform the pregnant woman - she should be offered a test which will indicate the growing baby’s origins, and, if she chooses, she could have an abortion.  The other couple should not be informed in case they trace and pressurise the pregnant woman.

The white woman refuses the test - she is determined to have the baby whatever its origins.  Eight months later she gives birth to a healthy black boy that she names Joe.  At this point the doctor has a legal duty to inform the black couple that a baby has been born and that they are its genetic parents, but under British law he cannot disclose its name, its gender, or its whereabouts to them. The black couple are incensed and seek legal advice.

The case comes to court. A (real) psychiatrist and (real) Guardian prepare reports for the judge.  They assess both couples as prospective parents, and declare them both to be fit for the role. (Real) barristers cross-question both couples aggressively in the courtroom.

A (real but retired) judge has to decide which couple should have Joe.

A powerful film which stirred the audience and exposed weaknesses in the way that English law attempts to regulate this developing area of medicine.

Producer & Director
Line Producer
Story Development
Assistant Producer
1 x 90' for Channel 4
Distributed by Channel Four International