Christmas celebrates one particular birth, and so it's especially fitting for BBC One to pay a visit to these much-loved characters, whose daily lives revolve around the joys and tribulations of childbirth."Pippa Harris, Executive Producer
Date: 29.11.2012 Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.13
Created and written by Heidi Thomas and based on the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth, Call The Midwife returns for a Christmas Special in December 2012 and a second series early in 2013.
Christmas is coming and in Poplar the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House are busier than ever. When an abandoned baby is discovered on the steps of the convent, the whole community rallies round to provide food and clothing and to try and trace his mother.
Nurse Jenny Lee, meanwhile, gets caught up in the heart-breaking mystery which surrounds an elderly, semi-vagrant local woman, Mrs Jenkins, played by Sheila Reid. For newly married Chummy, other challenges await, as she pulls out all the stops to mount a truly memorable children's nativity play.
Executive producer Pippa Harris said: "As the nights draw in and Christmas approaches, the residents of Nonnatus House pull together to celebrate the season in their own very special way. Christmas celebrates one particular birth, and so it's especially fitting for BBC One to pay a visit to these much-loved characters, whose daily lives revolve around the joys and tribulations of childbirth."
Extended to eight episodes, BBC One's most successful new drama series since ratings began, sees the return of all its well-loved characters as well as some new faces.
Nonnatus House opens its doors to warmly welcome the audience back into 1950s East End London and continues to follow Poplar's community of exceptional midwives and nursing nuns. This new series stays true to its roots and viewers can expect to see more births, babies, and bicycling plus blossoming romance from an unexpected quarter.
The series was commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller BBC One, and Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama. It was created and written by Heidi Thomas (Upstairs Downstairs, Cranford).
The executive producer for Neal Street Productions is Pippa Harris (The Hollow Crown, Revolutionary Road) with Christopher Aird as executive producer for BBC. The series was produced by Hugh Warren (Above Suspicion, Survivors) and the Christmas Special and episode one were directed by series one’s principal director Philippa Lowthorpe (Five Daughters).
I think the audience response to the first series of Call The Midwife was the warmest I’ve ever known. From the word go, it seemed it was loved not just by midwives and by mothers, but by one group we thought would turn off straight away – men! In fact I think my favourite fan of the show was a chap in his 70s who came up to me in my local supermarket. With tears in his eyes, he told me how he had been banished from the room when his children were born, and Call The Midwife had at last allowed him to share in the miracle of birth.
For everyone involved, the prospect of returning to the world of Nonnatus House was irresistible. Series Two - like Series One - draws heavily on the original, bestselling trilogy of books by Jennifer Worth and blends her stories with original material to create a multi-layered whole. However, having a Christmas Special and eight episodes has given us the chance to delve more deeply into the lives of our regular characters.
Each week, compelling tales of midwifery and social medicine intertwine with the touching, intimate stories of the nurses and nuns who serve the community of Poplar. Secrets are revealed, and lessons learned, as we follow these dedicated, vibrant women through the run-up to Christmas 1957, and then the spring, summer and autumn of 1958.
Jenny continues to shy away from jumping into the swimming pool of love - whilst Trixie has no such trouble, and almost comes unstuck. Gentle Cynthia suffers when a birth goes wrong, and Chummy faces an unexpected challenge when offered the chance to fufill her dreams. Sister Monica Joan’s dementia worsens, and she finds comfort in the friendship of a newcomer, Jane, who has a hidden sadness of her own.
Meanwhile, Sister Julienne struggles to keep the beleaguered convent on an even keel, Sister Bernadette experiences a spiritual crisis, and Sister Evangelina puts her foot down regarding pain relief. The male regulars – PC Noakes, Fred and Dr Turner – are also revealed in greater detail than before, and Jenny’s childhood friend Jimmy makes an unexpected reappearance.
When asked to bring the curtain up on a new series with a Christmas Special, we jumped at the chance. At its heart Christmas has always been about love, hope, and generosity of spirit – all qualities we celebrate in Call The Midwife.
Nevertheless, throughout Series Two, we continue to tell the gritty social and medical stories that so moved – and even shocked – the audience during our first outing. Appalling housing continues to be an issue, as does prostitution. But we also feature domestic violence, infant death, and the birth of a disabled child. And even as we celebrate the triumphant National Health campaign against TB, we take a clear-eyed look at the parlous state of women’s’ reproductive rights in the 1950s in a story that ends in a back-street abortion. These are not easy stories to tell, but they are real, and important, and often shine a light on the way we live today.