Call the Midwife, now in its fourth season, has firmly placed itself as a family favourite. In its infancy it faithfully portrayed the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, but new seasons see it diverge from Worth’s story into the capable hands of its BBC writers. We see the midwives and nuns of Nonnatus House deal with death, sickness and love as they bring new life to the world.
In this week’s episode, the third in the current series, the show sees midwives Trixie (Helen George) and Patsy (Emerald Fennel) faced with difficult tasks, taking care of Marie (Cara Theobold) and Tony Amos (Richard Fleeshman) as they attempt to overcome accusations of ‘gross indecency’ and welcome their first child. Tony faces anger and isolation from the community following his arrest for ‘consorting’ with another man, whilst his wife Marie is subjected to public shame at her Rose Queen pageant. Meanwhile, an Irish family living in squalor are aided by the midwives to gain a council flat and escape possibly fatal conditions with their children. Throughout the show, and the series, the BBC maintains period perfection, with sets and costumes that transport viewers to a bygone era of British life, whilst the cast convincingly handle the ups and downs of midwifery.
Although Call the Midwife can be accused of shying away from the real horrors of poverty to create ‘happy’ endings where reality may in fact leave none, its aim is clearly not to shock. This episode, however, shows how important TV such as Call the Midwife can be in reminding us of our history, both in its similarities to our own lives and its differences. With this week’s heartbreaking scenes of Tony attempting to ‘cure’ himself of his homosexuality, Call the Midwife is a perfect example of television speaking to its audience. At times educational, at times emotional, and very often wonderfully heartwarming, this programme deserves both its acclaim and its place as a Sunday night staple.