Before you ask, “who is this middle-aged woman now writing for SWN?”, I promise I’m in my (early) twenties… even if staying in and getting into bed at 9pm is a dream.
However let me tell you, if you have any love for historical or period dramas – especially when it is focused on women – then Call the Midwife is perfect. Originally based on the brilliant memoirs of Jennifer Worth, it explores post-war London in the poverty-stricken community of Poplar, East London. The first few series are based on the true events written in Worth’s memoirs and is a true rollercoaster of joyful and heartbreaking moments.
Until Jennifer Worth leaves Poplar, the series are mainly focused on how post-war Britain was coping and developing. And from the end of the third series, the show enters the 1950s & 1960s and covers historical events, some well-known such as the contraceptive pill and NHS, and other’s that I only discovered through watching; e.g. the morning sickness drug Thalidomide that resulted in death and disability.
It’s focus on individual families and dramatic, yet believable, storylines is what makes it tear-jerking. There is no ‘villain’ in this show, apart from maybe Sister Ursula in series 6 (but even she’s a nun). Every character’s flaws are covered in depth and explored, but never fixed. Midwife Trixie’s involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous has continued for over two seasons and even her new love interest doesn’t magically solve it… you know like how relationships don’t immediately solve personal problems.
The dichotomy of the nunnery compared to the revolutionary changes in Britain works perfectly for reminding younger viewers the traditional nature of society and what we take for granted. One of my favourite quotes comes from the late Sister Evangelina who says to Jennifer “Soon as one vacates its pram, another one takes its place. And thus it was and ever shall be — until such time as they invent a magic potion to put a stop to it.” A sign that the nuns themselves were even wanting changes in women’s reproductive health.
If I still haven’t convinced you that Call the Midwife is worth a go, I’ll say this… imagine Downton Abbey, but so much better. More thought-provoking, more realistic, funnier, sadder, happier. The rollercoaster of pregnancy and childbirth in every show.
Still don’t want kids though.