Television

10 Reasons You Should Watch Call The Midwife

Sometimes a show comes along that hooks itself into you so hard that you can’t let go. For me, Call The Midwife is one of those shows. Like I mentioned in a previous article, my grandma introduced this show to me. She loves all the British dramas. Call The Midwife is a drama based in the late end of the 1950s. It follows a group of nurses from the NHS and nuns they work with to serve the citizens of Poplar. While this is not exactly something that sounds enthralling on paper, however, the stories are weaved in such a way that gives them a life and finds you becoming the character’s main cheerleader. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be angry; you’ll feel emotions on every end of the spectrum. I have ten reasons you should watch Call the Midwife for you.

Now, you may be wondering a few things. Why am I hooked? What is it about this show that draws you in? I could give you a reason. I could give you two, but instead, I’m going to provide you with ten reasons why in celebration of the tenth series that premiered recently. While I am giving you ten, there are always little moments in each episode that remind me why I watch. Or in my case, re-watch the entire series. I recently began watching from season one, and I am unable to stop watching. Before I get too carried away, let’s get to those reasons to watch.

NUMBER 1 – THE CASTING

Sister Evangelina, Sister Julienne, and Sargent Noakes speak about a missing baby. S1E4. Screenshot taken by Melissa Rothman for thegameofnerds.com via Netflix, all rights reserved BBC 2012

First up, we have the casting.  This will be the longest section because I want to highlight a few of the cast I believe is the foundation of the series.

To begin with, we have Vanessa Redgrave, who narrates the series as older Jenny Lee. She is the voice that tells many stories and happens to be one of the most beloved British actors. Next, we have Jenny Agutter, who has been an active actor since 1964, when she was a child. She has appeared in a range of different films and TV. Most recently, she has appeared as part of the Council in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  She portrays Sister Julien, leader of Nonnatus House, in Call The Midwife.

You may also recognize Pam Ferris; she has been in movies and TV since 1971. I most recognize her as Miss. Trunchbull in Matilda and Marge Dursley, though she has been in many more productions in her career. What have you seen her in? Miranda Hart is Chummy, an eccentric and bubbly nurse, who arrives in Nonnatus and shakes things up for the better. Miranda is an author, actor, and performer, who has most recently appeared in the film Emma as Miss Bates. Her portal of Chummy is one of my favorite parts of this series, though she hasn’t been on the show since 2015.

Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan. She has been an active actor since her debut in 1961 in Information Received. She is an incredible actress and definitely an intergalactic part of this series. Another integral character to this series is Fred. The groundskeeper and handyman. He is played by Cliff Parisi. Aside from this series, he is known for his role in the soap opera East Enders.

I have to cut myself off here, or I’ll be listing the whole cast, and that is a lot of people. The entire cast is incredible. Even the guest stars they have in each episode are great; when you have the chance, look up the cast of this show because they are all incredible.

2 –  THE ACTING

Of course, the casting means nothing if the follow-through isn’t on point. This series delivers (pun absolutely intended) every episode. Not only is each of the main cast of the highest quality, but the supporting roles and guest stars bring their all. The casting department definitely knows what they are doing. Each episode is met with such fierce emotion that you end up feeling everything the people on screen do. There is something so special about the casting on this show, and it never fails to deliver and succeed. This is such a rarity to have casting be of such quality for many years and on a consistent basis. I find myself coming back for more and more because I know what I will be met with will be the best. 

3 – THE WRITING

Heidi Thomas discusses the show in an interview from 2018. Screenshot by Melissa Rothman for the gameofnerds.com from YouTube via the channel Radio Times.

Series creator and writer of most of the series episodes, Heidi Thomas, is so talented. She takes such care and time to be sure the stories she finds in her research are told with attention and intention. She has said in a virtual panel that she “never runs out of stories to tell and never runs out of inspiration.” The fact that she remains inspired by the stories she finds is a testament to the real-life people and real-life situations that she draws from.

You can see how much she cares for this show in the way she speaks about writing it. The past is so rich with many stories to tell. She also said that she believes the team of writers has been able to “give people the comfort of familiarity without it becoming stale. This is a statement that I have to agree with as a fan of this show for years now. The writing always feels fresh, and not one story seems too similar to another. I truly commend the team of writers for ten years of such high-quality craft. 

4- HISTORY

Heidi spends a lot of time researching history and stories she tells to be sure there is accuracy and truth in each story. The series is based on the book Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s. These true stories inspired the creation of the series, which in turn means the episodes need to reflect the reality that the books do. 

5 – HUMANITY

Call the Midwife has a way of giving humanity back to the downtrodden. Each person the nuns and nurses encounter is given help and care no matter their skin color, living conditions, sexuality, race, religion, etc. While the tale being told is hard to swallow, there is always a way to give dignity back to the people who cross our screens. 

6 – THE ISSUES

There are many difficult issues that are addressed in this series. These issues include racism, homophobia, dementia, poverty, domestic abuse, and infant death, to name just a few. These are stories of real people who deserve to have their stories told and be given a voice. Despite the uncomfortable and sometimes heartbreaking nature of these stories, they are told as gently as possible. As stated above there is always someone there to show care to the person affected and I find that a way to ease the blow of the discomfort. 

Nurse Dyer leads a reproductive health class to local teens at the clinic, S7E6. The screenshot was taken by Melissa Rothman for thegameofnerds.com from Netflix. All rights reserved to BBC, 2017.

There is also addressing of topics such as reproductive health, contraceptives, bladder control issues, and whether or not to give your baby formula.. This is a time where there were many new medicines and devices such as tampons were introducedEducating girls and women on such matters was considered taboo.

7- LOVE

Love is at the foundation of each episode and runs deep throughout the series. Most of the cast and crew have been on since the very start and have developed a bond that is like family. Even the newcomers have stated how welcoming the set is and how safe they feel. Sometimes this turns into real-life love stories. Like that of Helen George, who portrays Trixie and her husband Jack Ashton, who is Tom Harrowood. The pair met on set, married, and are about to have their second child.

Series actor, Stephen McGann, who is Dr. Turner on the series, is the real-life husband of creator Heidi Thomas. Setting that aside, the show is about love, of all kinds. Love of those who have no one to love them, love of those who are lost, love for strangers in need of help, love of those who are cast out from everything they’ve known. The ones who need it most are shown, love. This is such a powerful thing, especially in times when it feels the world is losing its ability to love and care for one another. 

8 – BABIES

I mean, do I need to say more? The rosy, chubby cheeks, the smiles, the cute outfits, the toes. So many cute babies, so little time. You simply can’t help but to smile and feel joy when those babies come on screen. In fact, only real newborns are used during birth scenes in this show. Between sixty to seventy babies are used in each series.

Sister Monica Joan judges a Baby Show. S2E5. Screenshot by Melissa Rothman for thegameofnerds.com from Netflix. All rights reserved to BBC, 2012.

9 – REALITY

In the video linked above Heidi Thomas says “we have the luxury of a slow burn.” because a show with such longevity has to chance to depict change in a realistic way. There are many storylines that are told over many episodes or even seasons. Each time care is given to not rush to the conclusion or ending, which makes the situation more relatable. To add to this, there are many stories that are told that have a difficult or sensitive narrative.

That is to say, not all stories will end happily. In fact, there are quite a few episodes that end with the viewer feeling sad or angry or both. This is reality though. Not every story can end with a ribbon and bow, unfortunately, and this series does its job to tell us. We won’t always feel comfortable and we won’t always like it, but it will feel real because its inspiration is real. 

10 – FAMILY 

Nurse Anderson (pictured left in gloves and white hat) sings with her church choir in Nonnatus House Chapel as a surprise for Sister Monica Joan, 2018 Christmas Special Part 2. The screenshot was taken by Melissa Rothman for thegameofnerds.com from Netflix. All rights reserved to BBC, 2018.

This could be similar to the “love” reason listed above. However, I feel that family is entirely different in this case. Family has many meanings. It could mean the one given to you at birth, the one you chose, or the one that chose you. Many times in this series there are people without a family for many reasons and they are given one through Nonnatus House and the residents within its walls. Or they find it through friendship through hardship. Babies are given up and adopted, people are married and divorced.

In the end, though you feel like these people are now your family, whether it be the main cast or the guest stars, you feel for these people and you want them to feel loved. That is a magical thing to find in a television series, and it shows us that even when you feel alone, there is always help if you know where to look. 

This show is complex and dense in its stories and characters. There are so many little moments and little reasons to watch this show. I am sure you could find more than ten reasons to you should watch Call The Midwife. Let us know yours! If you start watching let us know in a comment or on any of our socials.

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