Call the Midwife
Jennifer Kirby, Helen george, Leonie Elliott and Jenny Agutter on the changes on their way in Call the Midwife…
Sunday / BBC1
I’m delighted we’re heading back to Nonnatus House for an eighth series. Jennifer Kirby, Helen George, Leonie Elliott and Jenny Agutter tell us about the changes in store as we head into 1964… see page 10
Spring is in the air, hemlines are rising, and there’s fevered speculation about whether the Queen’s fourth baby will be a boy or a girl! It’s 1964, and a wind of change is blowing through Poplar as the nuns and midwives return for the eighth series of BBC1’S period drama Call the Midwife.
As well as some snazzy new midwifery bags and the usual range of dramatic births, this time they will also encounter huge social and medical challenges.
Luckily, they have the help of new nuns Sister Frances (Ella Bruccoleri) and Sister Hilda (Fenella Woolgar), who made their debut at Christmas and are sent to live and work at Nonnatus House following the death of muchmissed midwife Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie) and the departure of
Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) to the Mother House.
Here, Jenny Agutter, 66, who plays Sister Julienne, Helen George, 34, aka Trixie, and Jennifer Kirby and Leonie Elliott, both 30, who play Valerie and Lucille, tell
TV Times more…
The new series is set in 1964. What can we expect?
Jenny: You have things that really mark the year, so the Queen is pregnant and you see wonderful designs coming in with the clothes. But there are also social things happening, so in the first episode we see the same problems that we’ve had in the past, but addressed in a different way, because things move on quickly. Helen: This series is focusing on the rights of women, or lack of them. There’s an underlying current about abortion, which was still illegal. Characters have botched abortions and we see the issues that causes, and by the end of the series we get to the root of it. Jennifer: There are further abortion cases down the line and Valerie takes it personally and is upset. She’s invested in the community because it’s where she’s from. So the idea that somebody’s doing this in the area and women are going to those lengths and ending up in this state is troubling. What other big medical cases are tackled during the course of the new series?
Helen: There’s the start of the smear test and Trixie’s instrumental in pushing for that in Poplar. It is incredible to think it’s not that long ago. We also have a baby with a cleft lip and palate and we use an amazing animatronic baby. There’s also an issue with a young girl who we find out is a hermaphrodite. In the 1960s, it was not really discussed so it’s interesting for Trixie to learn about. The series sees Sister Frances and Sister Hilda settling in at nonnatus House. is it nice to have new faces on board? Leonie: Yes, it’s great to have fresh blood and I don’t feel as much of a new girl as last year now. The place also feels fuller.
Jennifer: It was getting sparse at the table! It’s nice to have new people and that’s how the characters feel as well about having fresh faces and different energy around. Ella and Fenella are both really great ladies, too.
The drama is now in its eighth series – what keeps it special? Jenny: I still wait with great anxiety for the scripts to come along and then I read them and get really upset!
Jennifer: For me, no matter how many times we see it, whenever a baby is born on screen, I cry. There’s something about lifting them up – it’s just really moving.
The midwife’s family become more prominent. ‘We’ve delved into who she is when she’s around her family. ann mitchell [Eastenders’ Cora] plays my gran,’ says Jennifer,‘and she is amazing!’ The plucky midwife tries to put her alcoholism and disastrous love life behind her. ‘What’s good is that Trixie is focusing on her career and not thinking aboutboys,’ says Helen.