By: Emily Maybanks
Ahead of its seventh series, which begins on Sunday 21st January 2018, BBC One’s period drama Call the Midwife first aired in 2012. The television series was originally based on the memoirs of district nurse and midwife, Jennifer Worth (played in the first three series by Jessica Raine). The memoirs have since been expanded to include new, historically sourced material, and now centralises around a group of nurse midwives and nuns working in the East End of London in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Call the Midwife depicts the daily lives of the midwives and those in their local neighbourhood of Poplar, with certain historical events of the era having a direct or indirect effect on the characters and storylines. Such events include: the knock-on effects of the post-World War II baby boom, post-war immigration and the 1948 founding of the NHS; the Child Migrants Programme; and the thalidomide scandal.
Call the Midwife prides itself in a wonderful cast. Some have been in the show since its very first episode: Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne, Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan, Stephen McGann as Doctor Patrick Turner, Laura Main as Sister Bernadette and later Shelagh Turner from the end of the second series, and Helen George as Nurse Trixie Franklin. Vanessa Redgrave does the continued voiceover of Jennifer Worth, and made a guest appearance in the 2014 Christmas special. Other stars have included Miranda Hart, Pam Ferris and Emerald Fennell to name just a few.
Following its first six-episode series in 2012, an eight-episode series has followed annually ever since, each year including a Christmas special. The show tackles a variety of topical subjects and contemporary social, cultural and economic issues, including miscarriage and stillbirths, abortion and unwanted pregnancies, birth defects, poverty, illness and disease epidemics, prostitution, incest, religion and faith, racism and prejudice, alcoholism, disability, homosexuality between men and women (which was illegal during the time Call the Midwife is set) as well as mental and emotional health. In 2016, the Christmas special was set in South Africa, offering a stark contrast to the usual streets of Poplar.
I have been watching and have been a fan of Call the Midwife ever since I watched the very first episode. What draws me in and keeps me interested and involved in the drama is how well they portray the stories in each episode and how sensitively the topic or topics of each episode are handled, especially the more difficult issues. Despite focussing on life in the late 1950s and now early 1960s, Call the Midwife gives off some thought-provoking messages and often valuable advice and life lessons for today. I continuously find that each episode manages to make me feel a range of emotions – everything from sadness, anger and heartbreak, to joy, hope and warmth. I would certainly recommend watching Call the Midwife with a box of tissues very close by. Call the Midwife is a perfect Sunday evening watch in the winter, especially with a warm drink and some biscuits.
Furthermore, Call the Midwife has been commissioned for an eighth and ninth series complete with Christmas episodes, meaning that it will continue to be aired annually until at least 2020.
Call the Midwife is absolutely one of the best series on the television, although I cannot emphasise enough stocking up on tissues before you watch it!