Best British TV Shows - Call The Midwife

Great British TV Shows- The BBC Get It Right Again

Downton Abbey has been a big hit for ITV in 2012 but it has not been alone in being the only really good British TV show. Call the Midwife has done for the BBC exactly what Downton Abbey has done for ITV.

It was the surprise winner at the TV Awards in September 2012, beating off competitors like Homeland to the top drama prize. Now in its second series in early 2013, it is proving itself to be one of the best British TV shows of the last decade.

Every week, it offers new and original TV drama and leaves its audience's hearts a lot warmer - it has a real feel good factor and is wonderfully nostalgic; just what recession-hit, gloomy Britain needs right now.

Call the Midwife's Miranda Hart also picked up the Best Actress Award for her turn as midwife Chummie. More often well known for her perfect comedy timing, Hart has proved her acting talents and will no doubt get more opportunities at British drama after this.

Call The Midwife has been the surprise hit of 2012 on British TV screens. The British it seems, can't get enough of nostalgia.

We're no sooner shouldering off Downton Abbey in the 20s, than we are settling back down in our armchairs for the rough and ready east end of London in 1958.


Call The Midwife - Introducing The Midwives

The Midwives are from all areas of the country and have come to London to work with the community in the East End.

Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) is a young, newly qualified midwife who has just moved to London and lives 'in house' at Nonnatus House, an early medical centre run by nuns.

Jenny Lee is not really prepared for the East End and the sort of people who live there.

Jessica Raine plays Jenny Lee so sensitively that you seem to feel what she is going through.

Trixie Franklin is the vivacious blonde midwife played by Helen George.

Trixie certainly seems more in touch with the social possibilities of being a midwife and seems to enjoy dancing and meeting suitors as much as her job.

Camilla Forescue-Cholmeley Browne or 'Chummy' as she is known is the rather posh girl newly qualified and raring to go. She is played by Miranda Hart.

Chummy is about six feet tall and rather clumsy but she's a good sort. There is much amusement as she learns to ride a bicycle and manages to crash into a policeman. Hart is now proving herself as good an actress in serious drama as she is in her top comedy show 'Miranda'.

The final member of the Call the Midwife team is small, quiet Cynthia Miller, played by Bryony Hannah. Already an established part of the team, she is the one the others seem to naturally defer to for advice.

By and large, Call The Midwife is mainly about Jenny Lee's experiences in the East End but of course, it is inevitable that you will get to know her co-workers as well as the nuns.

another new arrival
another new arrival

Call The Midwife Story Lines - Drama and Realism

As you might imagine in a show called Call The Midwife, all of the main story lines are about either pregnancy or childbirth.

Jenny Lee's first delivery in the East End comes only hours after her arrival as she is called to deal with a Spanish wife to an English husband ("he brought her home after the civil war") who is ready to deliver baby number 25!

The woman ends up having pre-eclampsia and falls in her yard while hanging out laundry.

Jenny's case it a difficult one to deal with but she does well

Chummy has the tricky task of delivering a baby in the breach position at a wedding party!

Jenny also has to see a pregnany woman who is suffering from sifilis. She lives in utter squalor and Jenny thrn has to treat her, not at the centre but at home.

There is never a dull moment for these 4 midwives and it all makes for edge of the seat viewing.

The BBC had midwifery expert and tutor Terri Coates on hand for all of the close up childbirth scenes and you will be amazed at the realism of the tiny babies born in the series. I was almost convinced they were using real babies - it really is astonishing.

Call The Midwife on US TV

Call the Midwife was shown on PBS in Autumn 2012 and got excellent ratings.

The Wall Street Journal described it as 'immensely absorbing drama' and viewing figures were excellent.

I hope a US prime time channel pick up this wonderful British TV show and it gets shown all over the USA.

Perhaps the USA may remake it with similar stories from their own history of midwifery. I have no idea whether the experience would transfer across but the story lines are by their nature very watchable - there is nothing quite like childbirth as a subject which people seem to love.

We have only to think about the many 'reality' style pregnancy TV shows to know that audience figures are ever-growing.

Who Is Your Favourite Midwife?

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Call The Midwife is set in the East End of London and the scenes still show signs of the blitz in London.

A rebuilding programme began immediately after the war but Call the Midwife shows streets still in ill repair, it is very realistic.

I hope you get the chance to see Call The Midwife in your part of the world soon. Once again, it shows British TV at its absolute best with great storytelling, amazingly authentic sets and fantastic acting - it is very addictive viewing too!

Many thanks for reading.

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Comments 23 comments

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Miran Shuleta 2 years ago

This show is fantastic, best of British tv.

Great Hub!

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Cyndi, thanks for reading. Ha Ha, I never get to use the remote if Steve is in the house but I get it all to myself through the day and that is when I have to watch 'my' programmes - he would never watch Call The Midwife (but then I do get to watch baseball through the day as well which I love and he also doesn't watch). I did once get him to watch the BBC's 'Pride and Prejudice' though and he loved it.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Torrilyn, thanks for reading. The show you are talking about is 'IT Crowd'. It is hilarious :o)

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Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Europewalker, many thanks for reading. The BBC always do 'period' drama with a touch of class.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 years ago from Western NC

Huh...I'd watch it - I don't watch a lot of TV - my husby tends to control it since I'm on the computer so much, haha. Getting him to watch something about midwives with me? Oh boy. That would be a miracle, LOL. But it looks good and if I can watch, I will! :)

torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

@Jools thanks for sharing this hub with myself and others alike. Ive recently watched a british tv show which the big bang theory is loosely based on. Cant remember the title. Anywho, voted up and interesting!

europewalker profile image

europewalker 3 years ago

Call The Midwife is one of my favorite shows along with Downton Abbey of course. I love those time periods and I can't wait for the new season of these shows to start. Chummy and Jenny are my favorite characters.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Rich, thanks for your comment. My gr-gr-grandmother was a real character by all accounts but she had the added problem of being illiterate so she really would have had to start from scratch to do the qualification and she had 9 children of her own to care for as well. I am publishing my family history (in a blog) next year and she will feature on there in a bit more detail (she was a bit of a charachter by all accounts). The show is very, very entertaining and the childbirth scenes are so realistic that they do take you back! Not everyone's cup fo tea though :o)

rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

Julie - Just saw this and had to read. It looks quite entertaining, but I don't know about the actual scenes where the midwife delivery duties come to be. Shame about your grandmother's position being erased by big government. They have a tendency to pull stunts like that. Give the responsibility to a person that's been to school and had no experience instead of someone that has the practical experience to get the job done. Politicians think so strangely at time ... actually, all times! Great article!

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

shiningirisheyes, thanks for your comment. I think Call The Midwife will definitely be popular across the pond so I hope you get a chance to see it.

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Wow - sounds like a stellar show. More interesting is your awesome family lineage. Your great great grandmother must have been an amazing individual. Especially in the time she grew up in. To take on this scary task without the aide of today's modern assistance is an amazing feat.

I have also found most of my favorite shows originate from your part of the globe. You have some amazing writers across the pond. The Office, Shameless, Life On Mars and Touching Evil just to name a few.

Thanks for the share. Voting up

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

girishpuri, thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed it.

girishpuri profile image

girishpuri 4 years ago from NCR , INDIA

Very well written review about British TV. Thank you so much.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

MArtin, thaks as always for the visit and comment :o)

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Michelle, you will love it. Thanks so much for your comment.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Tess, come in....have a cofee, lets put a DVD on, what do you fancy? Downton? Call the Midwife, Only Fools and Horses? Luther? The Town????

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Nell, not at all surprised that you like this :o) Yes, this part of my family history is quite interesting. Our town has a huge ASDA which was built about 3 years ago. I know that that is where her house used to be when it was still standing so every time I am wandering around the aisles, I think about all of the babies she must have delivered in that area of the town, it makes my shopping less boring!

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this well written review.

midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

I'll catch this when it comes to Singapore! Thanks for sharing, julie.

TesstheScribbler profile image

TesstheScribbler 4 years ago from At Home

FINALLY !!!! Someone else to talk with about BRITISH TV!!!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

I love this! mind you I expect you knew I would say that! lol! interesting to see your family history too, amazing. I just love these old period pieces, downton and now Midwife, it really does show how our country has changed over the years, and how we coped with those changes, great hub!

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Bill, it's been on PBS in the states already and was a big hit! You might see it next time it's on. It is very, very good but I think probably more popular with women viewers (hubby won't watch it).

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billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

About the only chance I have of seeing this is if it is on DVD...I'll look for it since you recommend it. Thanks Julie!

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