Just as films and television badly misrepresent how we depart the world (one last gasp of air, eyes shut, and they’re gone!), so too have we been served up an almost completely incorrect picture of how we enter it. Labour does not start suddenly (well, hardly ever), it’s not glamorous, and it does not finish with just a few loud screams and a clean, rosy-cheeked baby. Luckily, One Born Every Minute aims to counterbalance this perception by presenting the birth process realistically: in all its painful, animalistic, messy glory. And, the result is brilliant television.

You see, harrowing as the experience is for many people, this show deftly manages to capture those amazing, uplifting moments that, speaking from experience — albeit at the risk of sounding like one of “those” parents — nevertheless make a new baby’s arrival an apogee in the general vicissitudes of life.

A genuine fly-on-the-wall documentary series, One Born Every Minute is filmed almost entirely via 40 cameras installed in the Princess Anne Maternity Hospital in Southampton, UK. Each episode revolves around two or three expectant mothers, their birthing partners, and the extremely good-willed, professional midwifes and nurses calmly doing their amazing work in mundane surrounds. It is a quite raw, minimalist view of how life starts, devoid of any grandiose preludes or embellishments that would otherwise be a distraction.

Indeed, what shines through here needs no emphasis at all, as we bear witness to some moving and often times hilarious moments of happiness, stress, tenderness, drama, love, new life and the complex relationships which give rise to it. That is, all those things which make the pain and anger worthwhile (says the man…), and make people eager to go thorough it all over again.

Instead of watching something forced, clichéd and completely unrealistic (… Packed to the Rafters… *cough*), watch One Born Every Minute and treat yourself to something real and eminently more satisfying. Tonight is episode five out of just eight, so catch it while you can, or hope that Channel 4 has the wisdom to commission a second series.

Reality TV too often gets a very bad wrap, particularly when the term is used as a synonym for rubbish, but shows such as this wonderfully highlight how unfair a generalisation that really is.

The details: One Born Every Minute airs on SBS tonight at 8:30.