Tag Archives: Call the Midwife

OT: Book offers wonderful glimpse into ‘Call the Midwife’

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Call-the-Midwife

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.

Call the Midwife

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

“Chummy” (Miranda Hart) receives a kiss from PC Noakes (Ben Caplan). All photos from PBS.org

Feeling all “British-y” tonight

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Tonight I’ve found myself talking to the cats in an English accent. Sometimes working-class, sometimes tehhh-ribbly POSH. Feeling all Britishy, you see. Been watching the Call the Midwife Holiday Special (Oh, I do love this show!) followed by a repeat of Downton Abbey‘s Christmas Special. The third season begins here in the U.S. on January 6 and is much anticipated by me and fellow Anglophiles.

Before I began my “All Things English” Watch, I had my first serving of a traditional English treat–plum pudding. Of course, those of you who are familiar with it know it’s really more steamed cake than what we in America think of as pudding, which is inexorably tied to pitchman Bill Cosby and Jello brand desserts made from a box.

thCAM0CIHR Comedian Bill Cosby was a long-time pitchman for Jello brand pudding.

My Christmas pudding also came in a box, actually–a box from that marvelous retailer Vermont Country Store, which carries a myriad of treats to eat, wear, apply, play with and further enjoy. It was baked in Jolly Olde Englande and dispatched to the U.S. in time for the holidays. Along with the plum pudding (which contains lots of fruit but not, I believe, any plums) there was Bird’s brandy hard sauce.  This was yet another treat I had never had. I was amused to read the directions for heating on a hob–not an expression much used here–and the microwave, which is the route I went.

I must say the “nuked” pudding was moist and flavorful, tasting not unlike our fruitcake here, and the sauce was a delicious addition. Thinking I may have to whip up that package of gingerbread in the pantry to use some of the remainder . . .

And now, here’s something else British I find to be quite a treat:

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