Scottish Daily Mail

The PC plot in Call The Midwife that really made my flesh crawl


The great strength of Call The Midwife (BBC1) is its courage in tackling taboo subjects without fear or flinching... well, usually.

Its powerful, moving storylines have highlighte­d awkward topics from child neglect and wifebeatin­g, to medical scandals such as thalidomid­e. But this is the BBC, where some dogmas are beyond question — and one is the sacred law of multicultu­ralism.

This edict states that we must never criticise immigrants who live by the customs of the countries they have left behind, however appalled we might privately feel.

So when Saddiq Gani (Simon Rivers), a London factory owner, returned from a visit to Pakistan with a new wife, the midwives were not allowed to breathe a word of disapprova­l.

One of the nuns (a notoriousl­y illiberal lot) did demur slightly, feeling sure that Saddiq already had one wife. But she was briskly scolded by Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett), who told her that she’d known a bigamist in Leeds who’d been planning his third wedding when the police caught up with him.

The lesson was clear: if they get up to that sort of thing in Leeds, who are we to criticise?

Far more alarming was the new bride’s age. She was 15 and heavily pregnant — yet none of the characters seemed concerned. Though she was below the age of consent, and her husband was twice her age, the cast scrupulous­ly avoided mentioning it.

After the birth, the child-mother seemed so scared by her baby that Saddiq’s first wife had to step in and do some bottle-feeding. Wasn’t that nice? And Saddiq was a lovely man, if you didn’t count the bigamy with a teenager.

Dr Turner (Stephen McGann) smiled benignly at them all and compared the Ganis to his own family: ‘Several disparate elements . . . not necessaril­y average.’

There’s a difference between tolerance and wilful blindness. The BBC appeared to be condoning underage sex in the name of multicultu­ralism — and that made my flesh crawl.

Meanwhile, Trixie (helen George) was in the bathroom drinking neat gin from the bottle. You couldn’t blame the poor woman: she’s spent the past few weeks with her nurse’s cape billowing around her, and her handbag clutched in both arms, to hide the fact that the actress was an expectant mum herself.

The nuns might not mind a spot of bigamy, but they’re very strict about gin in the rest rooms and Trixie was sent away to dry out. In the last scene, back came Nurse Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie) through the midwives’ revolving door.

These cast changes can make you dizzy. And the merry-goround of idyllic hamlets, jewels set in the gorgeous countrysid­e, could set your head spinning, too, as Dame Penelope Keith chose a winner in the Village Of The Year Final (C4).

Would it be Bamburgh in Northumber­land, with its Great War Bake Off; or hampstead Norreys in Berkshire, where a sloth dangles upside-down in an artificial rainforest; or Beer in Devon, home of the nation’s first Wurlitzer organ in a church?

No, it was the Northern Irish village of Broughshan­e, the Garden Village of Ulster.

Dame Penelope didn’t give her reasons, probably because there’s no scientific way of deciding which is better — seaside or scenic; chocolate box charm or community spirit.

All we can say for certain is that there are plenty more villages to see, and this pleasantly light format will surely return to show us some more. Personally, I like a place to have a miniature railway, but it’s all subjective.

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