Joanna Lumley talks about The Non-Mum Network

As I was thinking about childlessness in society, and the importance of speaking out and raising awareness for CNBC (Childless Not By Choice) people everywhere, I was reminded of a fantastic example of this which happened last year…

A member of The Non-Mum Network Facebook group had become frustrated by the lack of awareness and consideration for childless people in the media as well as society in general, so decided to take action. She was aware of a journalist who might be able to help, so wrote to her on behalf of the group, appealing for her to write an article highlighting the plight of childless women and the issues we face, in terms of social exclusion and a lack of empathy towards us. 

To her surprise and delight, and that of the whole Non-Mum Network, the journalist replied. And she didn’t just reply, she agreed to help! She explained that she was not a features writer but rather wrote comment columns and pieces about her own life and experiences in a comedic way, so was not best placed for a serious CNBC article, but she is also the writer of an award-winning BBC Radio 4 series called Conversations from a Long Marriage. This BBC Sounds audio comedy is a two-hander, whereby the listener eavesdrops on the conversations between a couple in a 40-year marriage, starring Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam as the couple in question. She went on to explain that the couple are childless, following Joanna’s catastrophic miscarriage as a teenager in the 60s. 

The writer, Jan Etherington, went on to explain that she thought the NMN was a great idea and had recently been commissioned to write another series of the BBC Sounds hit, and would consider writing an episode featuring a childlessness storyline.  

And, Reader – she did! How amazing is that?

So series 4, episode 2 is entitled Let It Go, and includes a storyline whereby Joanna’s goddaughter Jools has recently discovered she is unable to have children and is going through a premature menopause in her 20s. In the episode, her mother has contacted Joanna to ask for advice, which triggers Joanna and Roger to discuss their own childlessness. The story also features another friend, who is childless by choice, but is also a reluctant stepmother, and discusses that dynamic, too. All in all, a great listen for anyone without children looking to connect with non-mum characters and see themselves reflected in the media. 

The moral of the story? 

Don’t be afraid to speak out as a childless or childfree woman!

Yes, we are in the minority, but we deserve to be listened to and represented in society. It can feel sometimes like a David and Goliath situation in which we feel swamped by the sheer pronatalism we’re bombarded with in everyday life, but think of that analogy and remember who won in the end! We may have to shout louder to be heard, but it is worth shouting! Lots of people are willing to listen, and are actually keen to, as Jan kindly demonstrated – we just have to appear on their radar in the first place. 

When I listened to this episode of the audio drama – which incidentally I had already been listening to long before this interaction with Jan since I absolutely love podcasts and audiobooks – it gave me a frisson of excitement and gratitude to hear the legend that is Joanna Lumley mention The Non-Mum Network by name. What a result for us as an online community, and for non-mums everywhere! So this blog is dedicated to Jan, Joanna, Roger, producer Claire Jones and the NMN member who had the confidence and wherewithal to speak up and ask for the coverage in the first place. If you’re feeling inspired by this message, consider what you could you in your community to raise awareness for non-parents. 

Listen to Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam discussing childlessness and The Non-Mum Network here (the specific NMN mention comes 22mins in). 

Happy listening!

If you have a success story like this you’d like to share, or would like help trying to raise awareness, contact me at

Sam x

Sam’s other blogs:

If You Booze, You Lose
Costa Rica Chica 

Life: A Bird’s Eye View

No Emotional Thais: Sam Goes Solo
Mummy Mission
World Wide Walsh: Around the World in 180 Days
NMN Socials: 

Facebook group: The Non-Mum Network

Facebook page: The Non-Mum Network







Claire Jones, Roger Allam, Joanna Lumley and Jan Etherington © Jan Etherington, 2019