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Channel 4 focuses on stay at home dads

When not working as a media journalist my other job is as a stay-at-home dad.

It’s only one day a week but it has given me an insight into the lives of the growing number of men who look after their children five if not seven days a week.

There are plenty of pressures which have given rise to this new social phenomenon – a rise in unemployment across the board, the hideous cost of nursery fees and the growing number of career women who are the major breadwinners in their families.

According to research from Aviva there are now 10 times as many stay-at-home dads in the UK than a decade ago, with one in seven fathers (14%) now the main provider of childcare (about 1.4 million men) - a figure that is set to increase.

The result has been the growth in playgroups for dads and their pre-school kids - groups such as Dads & Littl’uns which I attend with Ella and Daniel.

Here's a recent film about how dads are coping with the challenges of childcare:

I’m not the only one who has noticed this growing social phenomenon, judging by the blizzard of media requests that the organisers of the dad's playgroup have to field on a weekly basis.

In recent months reporters from The Sun and The Independent have paid a visit for articles and this week it was Channel 4’s turn. Producer Studio Lambert is in development with a series about stay at home dads and is busy scouring the country for likely looking candidates to appear in the show.

The joke was that it would have been better if Studio Lambert could have found gypsy dads - sorry to disappoint Channel 4 - but had to make do with us.

Sam the producer/director shot us with his camcorder showing up, trying to look like we were able to control a room full of two and three year olds and catching up on local gossip. With the local primary school admissions deadline nigh the quality or otherwise of primary schools is a hot topic.

It’s fair to say that not everybody welcomed the camera crew with open arms, with a minority of the 15 or so dads present definitely sceptical about getting involved in media - however well intentioned.

One pointed out that the small print of the release form the Studio Lambert researcher was very keen that we sign basically wavied any control over the global exploitation of the images.

But the camera crews visit proves one thing. Channel 4 is still providing development cash for programme ideas and that one of the programming trends of 2012 and beyond will be the domestic revolution where the men will be spending more looking after the kids.

Posted 18 January 2012 by David Wood
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