Thursday, April 9, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: "Call The Midwife" Television Series

Some original cast members, from left to right: Helen George (Trixie),
Bryony Hannah (Cynthia), Jessica Raine (Jenny), Miranda Hart (Chummy).
(From Public Media Newswire)

The fourth season of "Call the Midwife" started recently on our local PBS station, and I just realized that I have never mentioned this series here, which is a terrible oversight!  "Call the Midwife" is my very favorite television show, and the only one that I consistently watch every week when the new season starts (I have even been known to snap at my husband if he tries to interrupt me when it is on).  I have absolutely no interest in babies, nursing, or nuns, and yet I just can't get enough of this series which revolves around all three.  I was hooked after watching the very first episode of Season One, and am just as enthusiastic now, which is very rare for me, as I usually lose interest in a show after two seasons.

This British BBC drama is narrated by Vanessa Redgrave and set in the poverty-stricken Poplar district of London's East End during the 1950s-1960s.  I was born during this time, and I would be a contemporary of the babies born in the episodes, so it is especially fascinating for me to watch the changes that occur in the medical profession during this period.  Some of these changes include the beginnings of vaccinations for common diseases at the time, such as tuberculosis, the introduction of birth control (and a look at what life was like for families before contraception), new ideas about childbirth (i.e., home versus hospital births) and child care (breast feeding or bottle feeding).  The television show is based on a series of books written by Jennifer Worth.  Young Jenny Lee (her maiden name), played by Jessica Raine in the TV series, was a midwife in the East End of London at the time.  Seeing how the rather naive girl changes and matures as she faces the challenges of her job is another one of the interesting aspects of the show.  The women with whom she works, including other midwives and nurses as well as the nuns of Nonnatus House (the nursing convent where they are all based) also have compelling stories, as do the many residents of Poplar.

In Season Four, Jenny Lee has moved on, but new characters are introduced and the stories, which progress beyond the tales from Jennifer Worth's books, continue to be engrossing.  If you have never watched "Call the Midwife", I strongly urge you to check for your local listings and give it a try, or watch the most recent episodes online.  Once you get to know Chummy (Miranda Hart), Trixie (Helen George), Cynthia (Bryony Hannah), Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt), Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris), and the rest of the delightful cast, I have a feeling you will be hooked on this wonderful drama as well.  Some of the scenes may be too intense for young children, but I think that older children may find this critically acclaimed show compelling.

You might even want to read the books upon which this series is based.  I read the first one and thoroughly enjoyed it, and have been meaning to read the next two, but life (in the form of ailing animals) has been getting in the way of my being able to find a block of time for reading lately.  You can buy the trilogy in one book here, and the television series is also available for purchase.

I am already looking forward to the next new episode on Sunday night!

Some current cast members, from left to right: Foreground: Charlotte Ritchie
 Barbara), Helen George (Trixie), Laura Main (Shelagh Turner);
Background: Pam Ferris (Sister Evangelina), Judy Parfitt (Sister
Monica Joan), Emerald Fennell (Patsy), Jenny Agutter (Sister Julienne).
(From BBC)

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