Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Call the Midwife Christmas Special- Guest Post by Big Sister

Below is a special guest post by my Big Sister, M.F. (minor spoilers below) If you haven't yet seen this, go to Or just go ahead and read this lovely post anyway. It will only make you want to see it even more!


We got an extra present in our Christmas stockings this week to relieve the doldrums of the post-Christmas letdown – the Call the Midwife Christmas Special which aired tonight on PBS here in North America.  And, as the special just aired on Christmas Day in Britain, I would say that we were rewarded for being extra good this year, by getting it here only 5 days after!  I think that may be a record for a British televised costume drama … 

This Special was, again, set in 1950s Poplar (a neighbourhood in the East End of London near the docks) where the nuns and nurses of Nonnatus House work diligently delivering the endless stream of babies popping out of working class mothers of the area.  My comment when I saw the first series of Call the Midwife was:
“Never mind the automobile or the Internet … birth control was the greatest invention of the 20th century!”

There are two main storylines at work in the Christmas Special – a teenage pregnancy/infant abandonment and the desperate plight of an elderly survivor of the workhouse system – all interlaced with the background story of Nurse Chummy (Miranda Hart) and the Cub Scout pack (plus many other children) putting on the Nativity Play.

In the first story, the chubby teenaged Lynette gives birth alone in the cold basement of an abandoned factory, and then leaves her son on the steps of Nonnatus House for the nuns to find.  Her fear of telling her parents and the subsequent urgent search for the birth mother (due to health complications) make for some gripping drama in the midst of the usual Christmas preparations.

In the second story, elderly ragged Mrs. Jenkins (Sheila Reid) is the woman who spent 30 years in the workhouse (until it closed in 1935 – lest we think that these were only a feature of the Victorian era) and whose five children were separated from her and subsequently “failed to thrive”.   I’m sure that my sister, Jenny, was pleased to see that the mystery of the children's fate was solved by Nurse Lee (Jessica Raine) by delving into the records of the workhouse and the birth and death records of the parish to find where they were buried – genealogy is another of her pursuits.

One of the best scenes comes when Nurse Lee and Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris) visit Mrs. Jenkins to do some primary health care (like trying to take her vital signs and giving her a bath) – the patient is very resistant until Sister Evangelina breaks the ice by breaking wind!  “Where e’er you be, let your wind go free …” says Sister Evangelina and then offers to fart in a different musical key!  Hilarious, and completely unexpected.  The scene then ends with the two health care workers gently disrobing Mrs. Jenkins and giving her a bath and gently washing her hands and back to the strains of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” – this showed the normally gruff Sister Evangelina in a much kinder light than usual and I admit that I shed a tear or two.

Altogether, the stories all plaited together nicely and resolved with a warm Christmas glow.  Perfect!

Big Sister (helping out with the blogging over the holidays!)


  1. It sounds like I have something to look forward to in this one, after that horror of Downton Abbey!

    1. If you haven't seen any Call the Midwife, I think you will really enjoy it. The Beeb really scored with this one. And they have renewed it for another year which on PBS starts March 31. Yay!

      Season 1 is on DVD, but hopefully they will replay season 1 in anticipation, as I think a lot of viewers missed it.


  2. Really enjoyed it. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time!

    1. Hi Kate. Glad you liked it too. I am so happy we are getting another series of CTM nest year!




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