The third series of the heart-warming show Call the Midwife airs on BBC One at 8pm on Sundays, and was launched on Sunday 19th January. After winning seven awards including a BAFTA TV Award in 2013 and ‘Best New Drama’ at the 2012 TVChoice Awards, the series that tells the memoirs of Jennifer Worth continues to provide a vivid portrayal of the life of nurses, midwives and mothers in the deprived Poplar district of London in the late 1950’s. Delightful, charming and an easy watch the show is sure to be as popular as ever.
The recent Christmas special saw a lot of disruption within Nonnatus House; Shelagh, formerly Sister Bernadette, decided to leave the convent and marry Doctor Turner, while the detonation of an unexploded bomb discovered near the convent causes its demolition. Thus, the beginning to the third series of Call the Midwife begins with a new home and the arrival of a new nun, Sister Winifred. The start feels refreshing and positive however, even with obstacles initially lying in their path.
Focusing on an exhausted mother, Merle, the episode shows Jenny (played by Jessica Raine) working with Dr Turner to solve the mystery of two underweight and sick sons who have clear results for any infection. Following the good-humoured nature of the show, the diagnosis is comically suggested by Sister Monica Joan, whom the nurses and other nuns deem as having an unfit state of mind. However, illuminating the lack of knowledge about hereditary diseases and the problem of post-natal depression in mothers in this era adds a serious tone and invokes sympathy and compassion as we watch the young family struggle and we are hit with the reality that some families faced; the impact of this adds to the emotion of the episode. Meanwhile, a bored Chummy who has been attempting to occupy herself since she stays home to look after her baby writes to the Princess Margaret in a whimsical attempt to publicise and draw interest to the opening of the new ante-natal and baby clinic in the Community Centre. Successful, Poplar welcomes royalty and is an this is uplifting addition to the episode as we are shown the celebrations and Chummy’s accomplishment.
As in the previous series the beautiful and hopeful portrayal of young love makes an enjoyable, feel-good watch as we see Jenny reach the six month milestone with boyfriend Alec, and Dr Turner and his new wife Shelagh being settled down.
What perhaps makes Call the Midwife so popular is the truth behind the screens- the history behind the characters and the events as we watch real relationships grow whilst we can experience the advances in medicine and technology and the modernisation of Britain. There is no doubt that the props and settings are spot on, fitting the 1950’s style very well as always.
It does go without saying that the audience for Call the Midwife is a niche one, although its certain that those who are viewers enjoy the spirit of the 1950’s and the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood presented. Also, something that could have made the show more captivating and interesting to watch is a more dramatic event, not simply minor events that are resolved by the end of the episode and, other than relationships, there appear to be very few links and underlying plots that lead into the next episode and the rest of the series. In doing so, there would be more depth to the programme and the anticipation to watch the next episode would be greater. However, only the first episode has aired so there is still time for this to happen and there is little criticism about it since the plot is based on true events.
All in all, the story-telling was as enchanting and the beginning to the third series was as heart-warming as ever.
7/10 – Good. Enjoyable, but may not be to everyone’s taste.
Call the Midwife airs on Sunday nights at 8.00pm.