Alison Cathcart probably has a story or two to tell each weekend down at the local boozer.
That’s because she is head registrar at Westminster register office, the most famous in the UK, which holds the birth, death and marriage records for an array of famous names including Joan Collins, Brooklyn Beckham, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.
For this two-parter, cameras have been given full access to the register office, which until recently was based in Old Marylebone Town Hall, so that we can be party to the full spectrum of real-life drama that’s simply a working day for the staff there.
Alison admits she’s seen it all. In 22 years in the role, she’s conducted around 5,000 weddings, and despite a large number of people divorcing nowadays, the number of people getting married hasn’t declined.
Alison explains: “We see people getting married the second, third time, it’s not that uncommon - people want love in their lives and, they want to celebrate the fact that they found it. Whether they’ve done it two or three times before doesn’t necessarily matter.”
In the first episode, Alison, who registered Prince George’s birth, conducts a wedding for Hollie and Simon, but they have to pluck volunteers from the street to be witnesses.
Meanwhile, Tommy Hanover presides over the wedding of Jennifer and Dave, who have been together for 10 years. He believes that over the years, the reasons for people choosing to get married has changed.
He explains: “I think one of the main reasons that people choose to get married these days is purely love - because they don’t have to. There’s no societal obligation or no legal obligation or financial obligation to get married. Why else would you do it, it’s purely emotional.”
The programmes explain that one of the biggest changes for registration came in 2005, with the introduction of civil partnerships, and registrar Patricia Gordon admits that her views have changed in her 28 years in the job.
She says: “I was brought up to believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Before I met Tommy I, this might sound horrible, but I wouldn’t entertain a gay person. Meeting Tommy has changed a lot of my ways, possibly attitude. Tommy made me understand that a gay person is just an ordinary person.
“I’d love for Tommy to find his soul mate, one day, and I hope it will be soon. And when that happens, the person to marry him, to his soul mate would have to be me, nobody else.”
Husband and wife Tony and Rebekah register the birth of their baby girl Joanna, and she’s among 7,000 babies recorded every year. However, there’s sad news a foot. Joanna was born with congenital heart disease, and only two weeks later, Patricia has to register the baby’s death.
Plus, Caroline registers the passing of her 82-year-old mother, while Suzanne registers the death of her husband of 40 years.