Midwife helps actors keep it real

Call the Midwife The medical sequences are strictly supervised

A medical adviser on Call the Midwife is teaching its actors basic midwifery skills.

Terri Coates, who advises the production team for the smash BBC One drama, strives for the highest standards of authenticity in order to convince the audience.

Writing on the BBC TV Blog she says: 'I have taught the actors how to take blood pressure or listen to a baby's heart beat through a pregnant abdomen using a Pinard (small trumpet-shaped instrument) correctly using the (vintage) equipment.'

It's a job she takes seriously. 'So many medical dramas are spoilt when small details, such as a syringe used at the wrong angle, are seen,' argues Coates.

But the medical scenes in Call the Midwife are incredibly realistic, she believes.

In an interview last year, Coates told the Sun: 'When they were filming the final take on the birth scenes, the director would look at me and if I cried they would keep it.'

Terri Coates Midwife Terri Coates

She reveals that the set is heated to 'uncomfortable' levels for actors and crew when small babies are involved.

'The babies are usually naked for their scenes and chill rapidly,' she explains. She finds the extra heat 'reassuring', even if it causes other people to sweat.

During simulated birth sequences, the midwife stands just out of shot, handing the baby to an actor at the last possible second.

'In reality, this usually means I'm contorted under a bed or kneeling in a puddle,' she writes.

The midwife, who qualified in 1981, worked with Jennifer Worth on the original book which inspired the series.

Worth died before the filming began, but requested that Coates ensure the accuracy and integrity of the production.

But she still finds her new role as a television consultant surreal: 'Now I probably have the strangest job that ever required a midwife.'

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