Call the Mid­wife

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Sun­day, 8.30pm, ABC1 She could have been an air host­ess or a model. She lived for a time in Paris and once con­sid­ered a ca­reer as a concert pi­anist. In­stead, Jenny Lee (Jes­sica Raine), a beau­ti­fully man­nered gel reared in wealth in the English coun­try­side, trained to be a nurse, then qual­i­fied as a mid­wife. As you do. It is 1957 and Lon­don’s East End is teem­ing with chil­dren. There is no ex­pla­na­tion as to why such a well-bred lass would choose the dowdi­est part of Eng­land to op­er­ate in, but this is just one of sev­eral mys­ter­ies in this se­ries writ­ten by Heidi Thomas ( Cran­ford, Up­stairs Down­stairs) from the mem­oirs of Jen­nifer Worth. The pe­riod restora­tion is stun­ning and, as in the re­cent Ti­tanic, by Ju­lian Fel­lowes, the dock­yards and out­door scenes are mag­nif­i­cently ren­dered. You sim­ply are in 1957. In this evening’s de­but, in size­able heels and smartly at­tired, Jenny makes her way on foot to Non­na­tus House, an es­tab­lish­ment she be­lieves is a small pri­vate hospi­tal. In fact, it’s a nurs­ing con­vent. Though bon­nets have been re­placed by habits and the work­ing class is re­vealed to com­prise fine, up­stand­ing if end­lessly pro­cre­at­ing peo­ple (Jenny’s first pa­tient is ex­pect­ing her 25th child), the whole thing is too much Cran­ford and not enough Dick­ens. Charm­ing in an ide­al­is­tic sort of way. 5000km jour­ney into the heart of the world of bears. With his film­maker in tow, he aims to peel back the lay­ers of mis­un­der­stand­ing about bears and to ob­serve them for a full sea­son. As the mead­ows fill with lush grasses and the low moun­tains re­main snow-capped, it seems pos­si­ble that Alaska in June is one of the most beau­ti­ful places on earth. In tonight’s de­but City of Bears, we visit a place Mor­gan refers to as ‘‘ the Man­hat­tan of bear coun­try’’. They are not widely known as so­cial an­i­mals, so it is re­mark­able to see so many bears to­gether in an un­tamed wilder­ness. The bears are fine, the scenery is mag­nif­i­cent, and if you can’t be there the next best thing is to be parked in front of your tele­vi­sion for this stun­ning three-part doc­u­men­tary se­ries. Bri­tain. A so­ci­o­log­i­cal car ac­ci­dent in the mak­ing, the se­ries is nonethe­less fas­ci­nat­ing. None of them has even flown in a plane be­fore, far less en­coun­tered the boozy youth cul­ture of Blighty. God help them.

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