When a series about midwives in London’s East End was pitched to us a couple of years ago, we admit that we were skeptical about its chances. Administering natal care to an impoverished clientele amidst post-WWII ruins looked like a fairly bleak prospect. Then we saw these cheerful young women on bicycles. And we saw the ratings – Call the Midwife was the highest rated BBC drama in years. And when the episodes came in, we could see what all the fuss was about. It was more than just an idea that had not been tried before; it was a drama that celebrated the human spirit with a zest we don’t often see these days.
Newcomer Jessica Raine (Garrow’s Law – S1) stars as Jenny Lee, who leaves her comfortable middle class existence to become a midwife in the slums. Upon her arrival, she is surprised to find the establishment she has joined is not a hospital but a convent of Anglican sisters. They’re a mixed lot: the sweetly vague Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt, The Jewel in the Crown), cantankerous Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris, Rosemary & Thyme) and Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter, MI-5 - Vols 1, 2), who manages to keep everything running. Miranda Hart plays Chummy, a misfit refugee from the posh world of her well-to-do family, in a role that is quite a departure from the knockabout comedy of her Miranda BritCom seen on PBS.
Call the Midwife premieres Sunday, September 30th, on PBS. The DVD, which includes a featurette of interviews, will be available on November 6th, but may be pre-ordered now.
Inbetweeners fan alert: The much anticipated Inbetweeners movie will have its US premiere (on a limited basis) tomorrow, Friday, September 6. Click here for theater information, and information regarding special screenings with talent Q&A sessions.