Meditation helps me focus on playing such a wonderful role like Shelagh
As three more years of Call The Midwife are confirmed, actress Laura Main talks to GABRIELLE FAGAN about life on and off screen
SHELAGH Turner, Laura Main’s character in Call The Midwife, has certainly had her share of challenges and tearjerking storylines – renouncing her vows as a nun after falling in love with Dr Turner, followed by fertility struggles and the journey to adoption.
The hit BBC series’ sensitive and emotion-loaded plots have been immensely rewarding for Laura however, who’s been on the show since its outset in 2012.
The 38-year-old from Aberdeen – who is softly-spoken, selfeffacing and down-to-earth in much the same way as her character – admits she “never dreamt” Call The Midwife would be such a “huge success” and would run for so long.
It was recently confirmed that the show will run until 2022, covering up until 1967 (it was 1957 when it started).
Here, Laura talks about what being part of the series means to her, what she’s learnt along the way, and her wellness regime...
What’s it like being on such a long-running show?
IT’S become like a way of life and like a family. We’re all very supportive of each other and socialise outside of work, so it’s brought me a whole bunch of new friends as well.
I never dreamt when I first auditioned in 2011 that we’d be filming series nine now.
It seems to resonate with all generations. For some, it takes them down memory lane, while for others it’s educational. It also taps into some real big core human values and desires, so an episode can touch people, be cathartic and also funny.
What does your character Shelagh mean to you?
IF she was a real person, I think I’d like her. I can see little bits of her which are like me – she’s quite precise, careful and thoughtful – but I think she’s calmer than me. She copes way better than I ever would with her incredibly busy life, working and bringing up a family.
She’s a wonderful role to play because she’s had such an interesting life. After all this time, she does feel a part of me, although without her hair style and the glasses I rarely get recognised out of work – only sometimes when I speak, because of my Aberdeen accent.
Do you feel you’ve changed since the series began?
I FEEL I’ve grown up along with Shelagh in a way. As she’s found contentment in her life, she’s become more confident and matured, and maybe I have too.
You work with your on-screen children all the time – would you like a family?
I LOVE children, my sisters have three children whom I adore, and hopefully at some point I’ll have my own family.
Working with the children is an extra treat. I get loads of cuddles with the toddler who plays my son, Teddy. He just wants to explore all the time, but I’ve found one thing that will distract him is my singing, ‘Row, row, row your boat..’.
I’ve known Alice [Brown], who plays Angela my adopted daughter, since she was six months old and she feels like one of my nieces, and now we’ve got April [Rae Hoang], four, who plays May, who’s come into the family. Both girls are bringing each other on.
You played Princess Fiona in the touring production of Shrek The Musical last year – how did you cope juggling that with Call The Midwife? IT was the best year in my acting career. Life was pretty hectic – for a while, it felt like my feet almost didn’t touch the ground, but I absolutely loved it. It was brilliant to have the contrast of Shelagh, who’s a little reserved, while Princess Fiona was very upfront and fun. The only trial was getting off the green make-up!
How do you look after your health?
I DO yoga, run, walk and cycle. Running the London Marathon two years ago made me realise how beneficial it is to exercise regularly. It’s not a level I could sustain but now I’m more conscious about staying fit. I’m a pescatarian, not a huge drinker and I don’t smoke.
And how do you look after your wellbeing? SOMETIMES you can feel too busy, and then at other times not busy enough, but if I’m lacking in motivation, I’ll go for a run and it always makes me feel better.
I’ve begun meditating. Before I step onto a set or go on stage, I’ll plug myself into a meditation app for around 20 minutes. It takes me out of my head and my worries and makes me much more in the moment and focused.
■ The Call The Midwife Series 8 DVD, which includes the Christmas Special, is available now RRP £20.42.
Laura as Shelagh Turner, with her on-screen brood