TV Review: Call The Midwife

finds the Call the Midwife 2014 Christmas special to be charmingly consistent

Call the Midwife

Rating: ★★★☆☆

This is a consistent TV show. You know exactly what to expect, but this does not detract from the formula of Call the Midwife in the slightest. This charming Christmas episode seemed to do better without young Jenny; a character who never provided much in my opinion. Trixie was on top form, as always, and apparently the only person who managed to wear appropriate make up, given the setting. Chummy remained as the stalwart of posh, a nice glimpse into life outside of Nonnatus House.

The strength of Call the Midwife is in the social commentary. In every episode, especially the Christmas ones, there is an unearthing of what it ‘really’ was like in the post-war years. I use quotation marks because it is delightful family watching, but discussion about these mother-and-baby homes and the dumping of mentally ill patients in the outside world is an important matter, and I appreciate the way that Call the Midwife presents it. Although they are sub-plots, they do add greatly to the show’s appeal. You learn tidbits of information that are not forced onto you. If you care to look beyond the glossy veneer of Trixie and Patsy’s hair, there is a message to be gleaned from this TV show. There is also quite blatant preaching about the wonders of the NHS, which is deserved, because it was revolutionary at the time. By grounding this in fact, it does add another layer to the feel-good fest that Call the Midwife appears to be.

An interesting development was Cynthia’s reaction to her vocation, a storyline presented in a well-done and considerate manner. It does enable you to sympathise with the other nurses; how one would, or should, react to a friend choosing to join a convent, or start her journey towards that. Obviously the nuns provide continual entertainment; they are superbly written characters that never fall short of who they are portraying. Sister Evangelina is magnificent and a saving grace for the show that at times threatens to become a little too fluffy.

What is fascinating is the disgust that men seem to have towards this show, many claiming that it is just ‘for women’; too emotional and cutesy for them to be interested, which is bizarre, as although the majority of the cast is female and the focus of the show is a very female experience, there are many more aspects to the show. Admittedly the childbirth scenes may be too much for some people, including my grandma, who found herself looking away, absolutely repulsed by what was on screen in front of her. I do appreciate the efforts of the BBC to normalize childbirth in this manner though, as rarely is it shown with so little overarching dramatics.

In light of the student revealing herself as the Teletubby sun baby, I am very impressed of all the newborns, taken from mothers mainly around Mill Hill, in North London. It’s a fascinating solution to the problem of how to make the children seem lifelike, and a lot of hard work has gone into it. Mothers will sign their unborn babies up, and these babies have a three-day window in which they can perform as a newborn. Sometimes premature babies or late ones cannot be used for sizing issues, the organization that goes into making this as realistic as possible is impressive. The scenes are rehearsed with dolls, which are made as similar to a newborn as physically possible, covered in blood and gunk, to emulate what it will be like holding the newborn in the scene.

On the back of this, I think the effort that the BBC has put into this production is very much worthwhile. I also hope that more males begin watching this show because there is a lot left to learn. And I wonder if they use the same filter as Made in Chelsea, as there is a similarity of glow on everyone’s skin.