Jessica Raine as 5os-era midwife Jenny Lee holding a new arrival in the hit BBC/PBS series, “Call the Midwife.”
A new book by Heidi Thomas gives fans of the show Call the Midwife a wonderful glimpse behind the scenes of this surprise hit. The book, The Life and Times of Call the Midwife: The Official Companion to Seasons 1 and 2, offers many color photos of the cast and locations, vintage photos and the story of how the series was created.
Just to connect the dots for the uninitiated: Jennifer (Lee) Worth was a midwife assigned to work from a convent in the poorest section of the East End of London in the mid-1950s. From a comfortable middle-class background, the young and sheltered Jenny Lee experiences a sort of culture shock as she sees the grinding poverty some of her patients live in. But she also discovers an indomitable spirit in many of these people, in spite and, perhaps, because of the daily struggles they face.
Lee (Raines) and fellow midwives cycling through the bumpy streets of Poplar.
You’ll discover stories along the way that are funny, touching and some could elicit a tear or two. You get to meet some of the real-life individuals who served as the basis of Jennifer Worth’s characters, shared in a series of best-selling memoirs about her years serving families in the East End. Those memoirs served as the foundation for the series. Worth, who has since lost a battle with cancer, served as a consultant as the series was being written.
There are chapters on Birth, Fashion, Beauty, Faith, Health, Homes, Food, Street Life, Men and Christmas, with profiles of each of the principal actors and Q & As with their characters. It gives you a wonderful look at how production makeup artists, wardrobe designers, set designers and dressers and even CGI technicians use their skills and experience to take viewers back to the Poplar of more than 50 years ago (yes, even CTW requires a little digital wizardry to recreate the docks of the 1950s).
I highly recommend the book to anyone who is a Midwife fan or as a gift for a friend or family member who loves the show. I purchased the Kindle edition, which offered some beautiful reproductions of the book’s color photography.
If you missed the first season on the BBC or PBS, the series is now available on DVD, along with the delightful Christmas special. A second season is set to air in 2013. And while the book is a companion to the first two series, don’t worry; there are no spoilers for S2.
“Chummy” (Miranda Hart) receives a kiss from PC Noakes (Ben Caplan). All photos from PBS.org