THERE ARE NEW CHALLENGES for the nuns and midwives as the drama returns
Call the Midwife Sunday, BBC1 HD, 8pm
IT’S1964 AND a wind of change is blowing through Poplar as the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House face huge trials in a new series of BBC1’S Call the Midwife.
‘We have things that really mark 1964, so the Queen is pregnant with Prince Edward and there are wonderful new clothes,’ says Jenny Agutter, who plays head nun Sister Julienne. ‘But there are social changes, too. We see some of the problems that we’ve had in the past, but addressed in a different way as things are moving very quickly.’
The opening episode introduces the series’ dark storyline as it looks at the consequences of backstreet abortions in London’s East End.
‘This series focuses on rights of women at this time, or lack of them,’ says Helen George, who plays midwife Trixie Franklin.‘there’s an underlying current about abortion, which was still illegal, and it’s really wonderful
storytelling. We have characters who have botched abortions and we see the issues that causes.’
For midwife Valerie Dyer, the issue feels very personal. ‘ Valerie takes it all to heart,’ says Jennifer Kirby, who plays her.‘she is invested in anything to do with the community, because that’s where she’s from. The idea that women are ending up in this state is very troubling to her.’
The latest series also sees Sister Frances (Ella Bruccoleri) and Sister Hilda (Fenella Woolgar), who both first appeared at Christmas, move into Nonnatus House to help the team.
‘There’s the start of the smear test and Trixie is instrumental in pushing for that in Poplar,’ says George. ‘We have a baby with a cleft lip and palate and we use an amazing animatronic baby for that. There’s also a young girl we find out is a hermaphrodite.’
While the thought-provoking stories show no sign of running out, the heartwarming and at times heartbreaking births remain key. ‘Whenever a baby is born on screen, I cry,’ says Kirby. ‘There’s something about lifting them up – it’s just really moving.’
SISTERS FRANCES AND HILDA MOVE INTO NONNATUS HOUSE