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Call The Midwife
The plot follows the newly qualified midwife Jenny Lee and the work of all the midwives and nuns at the nursing convent Nonnatus House. The nurses and midwives help delivery around 100 babies each month but also carry out many other nursing jobs across the community.
Call the Midwife Summary
The BBC hit series 'Call the Midwife' is produced by Sam Mendes' production company Neal Street Productions. It stars Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Judy Parfitt, Helen George, Bryony Hannah, Laura Main, Victoria Yeates, Stephen McGann, Cliff Parisi and Ben Caplan.
Heidi Thomas - The screen writer of Call the Midwife
Heidi Thomas is an English screen writer who was born in Liverpool in 1962 wrote and co-produced an adaptation of Call the Midwife in 2011. It is based on the trilogy of books by Jennifer Worth. Heidi was also the writer behind the successful BBC One Upstairs Downstairs drama, Cranford, Ballet Shoes, Lilies, I capture the Castle and Madame Bovary.
Jennifer Worth - The nurse who wrote memoirs of her life as a midwife in the 1950s
The writing behind Call the Midwife was based on Jennifer Worth's book Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s. The books are in memoir form and describe Jennifer's work as a district nurse and midwife in the East End of London during the 1950s.
Jennifer, was born on 25th September 1935 in Clackton-on-Sea in Essex. Her birth name was Jennifer Lee and she was raised in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. She left school aged 14 and went on to learn shorthand and typing which led her to become the secretary of Dr Challoner's Grammar School in Amersham. She then later trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and moved to London to receive training to become a midwife. She became a staff nurse at the London hospital in Whitechapel in the East of London in the early 1950s. She then went on to work at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital in Bloomsbury, and then at the Marie Curie hospital in Hampstead.
In 1965 she married Philip Worth and had two daughters, Suzannah and Juliette.
She gave up nursing in 1973 and started a career with music. She studied the piano and sang and eventually became a licentiate of the London College of Music in 1974. 10 years later was awarded a fellowship and she taught and performed solo and in choirs around Europe.
It was only after she retired from her music career that she wrote her memoirs of her life as a midwife. She then wrote a sequel 'Shadows of the Workhouse' and then 'Farewell to the East End' all becoming best sellers. When she died of cancer in June 2011 aged 75, her books had already sold almost a million copies. Her sales were later boosted to thanks to the BBC drama of the trilogy.
One of her secrets which wasn't in her memoirs and was only known by her closest family was that she had a passionate year long affair with a married man when she was just 16. She kept the romance in her heart for the rest of her life. Her 80 year old husband Phillip said in an interview reported by the Daily Mail that she had been deeply in love with this man. The relationship was most probably physical but also he was like a father figure to Jennifer as her relationship with her own father was not very close. The mans name has never been named but its quite clear he had an impact on the Jennifer, her friends and family knew before she died.
Cast and Characters
- Miranda Hart as Nurse Camilla Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne, also known as 'Chummy'
- Jessica Raine plays Jennifer Lee
- Jenny Agutter plays Sister Julienne
- Pam Ferris plays Sister Evangelina
- Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan
- Helen George as Nurse Beatrix Franklin also known as "Trixie"
- Bryony Hannah plays Nurse Cynthia Miller
- Laura Main plays Sister Bernadette
- Cliff Parisi plays Fred the handyman
- Victoria Yeates plays Sister Winifred
- Stephen McGann plays Dr Patrick Turner
- Ben Caplan plays Police Constable Peter Noakes
If you haven't seen any of the episodes then you might not want to read below as there are some spoilers, but there are many more story lines I haven't mentioned.
The first episode was first aired on 15th January 2012 and saw Jenny Lee played by Jessica Raine arriving at Nonnatus House convent. A little daunted as she thought it would be a small private hospital. She meets all her colleagues and gradually find her feet. Her first labour is a difficult birth which she has to deal with alone.
Episode two sees the brilliant Miranda Hart playing Chummy join the convent. She is from an upper-class background and soon rattles sister Evangelina played by Pam Ferris. She struggles to learn to ride her bike and bumps into local policeman Peter Noakes played by Ben Caplan, then later encounters a heavily pregnant young Irish girl who has run away from home due to an abusive home life and turns to prostitution.
In episode three Jenny gets some experience with community practice.
She first meets an old soldier named Joe who confined to a one-room flat. When the building he lives in is condemned and there is talk of him having to be moved to an old peoples hospital Jenny help cheer him up by arranging for him to attend a regimental reunion. Nurse Trixie played by Helen George and nurse Cynthia played by Bryony Hannah have to deal with an older woman who is rather upset at having become pregnant in her forties regardless that her husband is over the moon.
Jenny delivers a little girl Shirley Redmond in episode four. Panic then erupts when a the baby is snatched and a full-scale search is put in motion. The whole community get involved and it turns out that the Irish girl Mary took the baby due to the grief of losing her own baby. Jenny and the other nurces try to talk the police into being lenient due to Marys background. Cynthia deals a women suffering from eclampsia.
The next episode sees Jenny and some of the nuns are care for Frank, the brother of Nonnatus House cleaner Peggy, when is his sadly diagnosed with cancer. Radium treatment doesn't work and sister Jilienne has to make it clear to Peggy that Frank is dying. The sisters are shocked to discover that Peggy and Frank live in a home with just one bed which means their relationships is more than just brother and sister. The sisters try not to judge.
Episode 6 of the first series finds Sister Monica Joan wandering near the docks, and gets returned to the covent by the police. She gets pneumonia but eventually recovers only to find her being accused of theft by the police. Everyone is worried the nun will end up in prison. Chummy's mother decides to check out her new boyfriend PC Noakes. Chummy's stern and demanding mother does not approve and she breaks off the relationship. The other midwives try to convince her she is making a mistake and the episode ends with the couple's wedding.
Episode 7 went out as the Christmas Special and the nurses come across an abandoned baby. Jenny has her first Christmas at the home and is put on duty to care for Mrs Jenkins. Meanwhile Chummy comes across lots of headaches trying to put together a children's nativity play.
Episode 1 sees nurse Jenny Lee comes back to the house after a long day of duties to be greeted by everyone wishing her a happy birthday. Her, Chummy, Trixie and Cynthia all head off to the cinema. The next day she meets Molly Brignall who's baby is due soon and finds out she is involved in an abusive marriage. Her colleagues Trixie and Evangelina are aboard a Swedish cargo ship and looking after the captain's about to drop pregnant daughter.
The community is rocked in episode 2 when the Kelly family's newborn son dies tragically and nobody can explain why. Poor Cynthia comes under intense scrutiny from the police and the pregnant women of Poplar as she had attended the birth. The stress and strain takes it out of her and she questions her own abilities. Chummy decision to pursue her dream brings about a different sort of pressure as exciting changes lie ahead for the couple. Newly married Chummy's decision to pursue her dream of missionary work in Africa leads her to question her priorities.
Episode 3 finds Jenny working under an intimidating surgeon Mr Tracy at a short-staffed London Hospital where she is asked to work on the male surgical ward. Back at the house the midwives get introduced to Jane, who helps out while Jenny's is on her temporary assignment. An unusual case sees the nuns and nurses being introduced to Meg and Mave Carter, a pair of forthright twins. Oddly they share the same husband but one is now pregnant.
Jenny returns to the House and helps with the delivery of a baby born with spina bifida in episode 4. Having never delivered a disabled child she struggles with the situation and how to deal with the parents. Jane has a romance with the Reverend Thornton Applebee-Thornton, who is an Anglican priest who is who is staying at the House and also an acquaintance of Chummy.
Episode 5 sees the who Poplar community come together for prepare for the annual summer fete. Nurse Trixie volunteers to be the judge for the baby show and gets the help from a top television star only for him to force himself on her. Sister Bernadette suffers a crisis as she struggles to come to terms with her feelings for Dr. Turner. At the ante-natal clinic Jenny meets Nora Harding who is an impoverished pregnant mother of eight.and undergoes an illegal abortion which leaves her fighting for her life.
Miranda Hart as Chummy
Call the Midwife Tour
Like most popular TV shows there is a locations tour you can go on and visit some of the filming locations such as Chatham Dockyard.
Call the Midwife Locations Tour
- An interview with Jennifer Worth by Orion Publishing Group
- Official BBC Website for Call the Midwife with information on episodes, many clips and pictures and also interesting behind the scenes films.
- Jennifer Worth Obituary published in The Guardian on 6th July 2011
- Call the midwife Tour of the filming locations used for scenes in Call the Midwife, also hear behind the scenes stories of the filming of the hit show and anecdotes