Role leads to birth of a TV star
FAME has crept up quickly, and unexpectedly, on Jessica Raine. She has long been a major presence on the UK theatrical scene and had a key role in Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood, but Raine’s lead role in TV drama Call the Midwife — the BBC’s most successful new drama since 2001 — has seen her profile shoot skyward.
‘‘ None of us had any idea it was going to be the success it was,’’ Raine says.
‘‘ Things changed for me straight away. I got on the train the next morning (after the screening of episode one) and I felt there was this shift— there was just this atmosphere of people staring at me. At first I thought I must have had something on my face,’’ she adds with a laugh.
‘‘ I think I’m so ready for this. I think to an extent you can choose how much you let it (fame) affect you. I’m having so much fun.’’
Call the Midwife is touted as an intimate, funny, and true-tolife look at the colourful stories of midwifery and families in East London in the 1950s.
Raine, 30, plays Jenny Lee, who was raised in the wealthy English countryside and made the unlikely decision to become a nurse.
A newly qualified midwife, she knows nothing about hardship or poverty. Attached to an order of nuns at Nonnatus House, she becomes part of a team of midwives who look after the poorest expectant mums in the region.
Among Jenny’s patients are Conchita, who is on her 25th pregnancy, and Mary, a 15-year-old prostitute.
While ‘‘ incredibly weird and real-looking’’ prosthetic dolls are sometimes used in filming, Raine says the set is often populated with babies.
‘‘ The routine was quite alien to me because I’ve not done much filming before,’’ Raine says.
‘‘ In the first week of filming we had to do Conchita’s birth scene, a really complicated birth. My brain was saying, ‘ Seriously, do we have to start with this’. I just had to completely throw myself in. We have a real midwife there ... and she really helped me out.
‘‘ I don’t have kids and at first I was very nervous handling babies. Four months later I’m in there just scooping them up out of their beds.’’ Call the Midwife, ABC1, Sunday, 8.30pm