Table of Contents
- Call the Midwife
- Dancing on Ice
- Doctor Who
- The Trial of Christine Keeler
- SAS: Who Dares Wins
- The Wonderful World of Chocolate
- Film choice
- Live sport
- Call the Midwife Season 8, Episode 1 Recap
- Fresh Faces
- For Queen and Country
- The Circle of Life
- The Perils of Illegal Abortion
- More Complications
- What Are the Odds of Three?
- What’s Left Undone
- Last Scenes
- Call The Midwife season nine: When’s it on TV?
- Call The Midwife season nine: Who’s in it?
- Call The Midwife season nine: What’s it about?
Call the Midwife
The heartwarming saga of the maternity nurses at Nonnatus House continues for its ninth season. We open in 1965, and the death of Winston Churchill has shocked the nation. The midwives continue to go about their work in the East End, trying to get a heavily pregnant single mother and her son out of squalid accommodation, while Fred finds an abandoned baby in a dustbin and rushes to try to find its mother. Oh, and there’s a competition to win a year’s supply of tights for Trixie, Lucille and Valerie. Ammar Kalia
Dancing on Ice
Phillip and Holly return for a new season of judging celebrities while they fall over on ice. Potential casualties include Michael Barrymore and Trisha Goddard, as well as the show’s first same-sex couple, Ian “H” Watkins from Steps and pro Matt Evers. Judges Torvill and Dean will be on hand to assess the damage. AK
Time travel saviour … Doctor Who. Photograph: Alan Clarke/BBC
Jodie Whittaker and friends settle into their regular Sunday night slot, having launched the new season and, indeed, this eventful two-parter on New Year’s Day. Humanity’s under even more threat than it usually is, this time from mysterious aliens, and it’ll get worse tonight before the Doctor makes it better. Jack Seale
The Trial of Christine Keeler
The gunplay on Wimpole Mews sees Christine (Sophie Cookson) in court as a witness, but a crafty Sunday Mirror hack thinks she could share an even juicier story. The atmospheric drama based on the scandalous 1963 trial cranks up the tension but also offers glimpses of Keeler’s tough teen years in Staines. Graeme Virtue
SAS: Who Dares Wins
The gratuitously demanding SAS course returns. Somehow, they’ve found another 25 masochists willing to subject themselves to trial by icy water, sleep deprivation and psychological deconstruction, all under the beady eye of Ant Middleton. This year, the hazing takes place on a remote Scottish island. Phil Harrison
The Wonderful World of Chocolate
Cadbury and Nestlé might be big names in the chocolate world but increasingly brands such as Aldi’s Moser Roth are vying for prominence, and in the first of this new series we get a glimpse into its huge operation. There is also the chance to see how the (chocolate) Milky Way is made. AK
The wild wild west … The Sisters Brothers. Photograph: Magali Bragard/Annapurna/Kobal/
The Sisters Brothers, 10.10pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
For his English-language debut, French director Jacques Audiard heads to the wild west, by way of Patrick DeWitt’s novel. Joaquin Phoenix and John C Reilly are the perpetually squabbling Sisters brothers, Charlie and Eli, sent to assassinate chemist Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed). Paul Howlett
FA Cup Football: Middlesbrough v Tottenham Hotspur 1.30pm, BT Sport 1. Third-round action from the Riverside Stadium.
Premiership Rugby Union: Wasps v Northampton Saints 2.30pm, BT Sport 2. From the Ricoh Arena.
FA Cup Football: Liverpool v Everton 3.30pm, BBC One. The Merseyside derby at Anfield.
Call the Midwife Season 8, Episode 1 Recap
Call the Midwife’s Season 8 premiere welcomes 1964, four new babies – and another heir in Queen Elizabeth’s royal family – plus two new nuns who cause the average age of sisters at Nonnatus House to plummet. The first episode also takes a hard look at an issue which will be a recurring one this season: abortion, which was illegal in the United Kingdom until the Abortion Act of 1967.
Frances and Hilda, sisters of the cloth introduced in the 2018 Holiday Special, leave the Mother House far south of London to become Poplar residents in Call the Midwife Season 8.
Saucer-eyed Sister Frances (Ella Bruccoleri) is young, clumsy and eager to please. As the novice gets ready for the big religious ceremony when she’ll commit to a life of service, she giggles and blushes at the sight of her symbolic white wedding dress being ironed by Sister Hilda (Fenella Woolgar, Home Fires – Masterpiece).
Mother Superior Mildred (Miriam Margolyes, Harry Potter and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) sits Frances down to break the news that she’s assigned to Nonnatus House in rough-all-over Poplar. Frances is more frightened than “Glad All Over.”
“It’s scarcely the land of milk and honey, and if it were, we should not be called to work there!” is how Mother Mildred sums up France’s future home.
Don’t worry, Frances! Jump-to-it Sister Hilda will be joining Nonnatus House, too. Hilda is an experienced midwife who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in World War II before becoming a nun.
Also new is the receptionist at Dr. Turner’s surgery: Miss Higgins (Georgie Glen). She appears prim and proper, but she blasts patient confidentiality full of holes with nearly every remark in the waiting room. Shelagh Turner (Laura Main), the former nun who helps her husband Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) run his practice, does her best to reign in Miss Higgins’ commentary.
Shelagh Turner (LAURA MAIN), and the new receptionist Miss Higgins (GEORGIE GLEN).
For Queen and Country
We’re reunited with our midwives in a morning scene in which they chatter about the pregnant Queen Elizabeth before getting their assignments for the day. Trixie Franklin (Helen George) quips that “nothing so vulgar as a date” for the Queen’s delivery is ever mentioned – why not make it public? Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) commandeers the conversation, saying if the Queen “isn’t likely to tip up at the institute waving a jam jar of urine and wanting to know where her milk tokens are, I suggest we move on to the morning’s task at hand.”
The women of Call the Midwife have quite a way with words, sometimes upending what we expect of British propriety.
Elsewhere, shopkeeper Violet Buckle (Annabelle Apsion) is running a betting pool on whether the country will welcome a new prince or princess. Miss Higgins has pink and blue ribbons handy to adorn the portrait of Queen Elizabeth she has hung above her desk.
The Circle of Life
Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) learns that the old medical kit bags will be replaced and discarded.
Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) is Britain’s first midwife and the series’ wellspring of eloquence, nimbly articulating phrases that could be mistaken for lines from Shakespeare. But the nonagenarian also suffers from confusion, and as a medical professional, she’s noncompliant when it comes to looking after her own ailing health.
She goes into a panic when she learns the midwives’ decades-old leather medical bags have not only been replaced, but will be burned as waste by Fred Buckle (Cliff Parisi, EastEnders). One bag was hers, which she passed down to another midwife. The bag represents her trailblazing life’s work.
Whether or not it’s her exact bag, Monica Joan snatches one from Fred’s pile and goes missing. East End native Valerie Dyer (Jennifer Kirby) and Jamaican immigrant Lucille Anderson (Leonie Elliott) set off into the East End’s streets in search of her that night, carrying flashlights. As resident of New York City in 2019, it would never occur to me to use a flashlight at night. Was the hard-hit East End still recovering from the daily bombings of the Blitz, which by 1941 had left a third of London’s streets a pile of rubble? I don’t know what nighttime visibility was like in London the 1960s, but I did find this hobbyist’s exhaustive .
Valerie finds the bewildered sister at the ruins of the Elfrida Hospital for Mothers & Babies.
“The baby we all await is on its way. A crown will be of no comfort where she labors, but a midwife might,” Monica Joan pleads as she waits in vain to be let in “to assist” in the birth of the Queen’s baby.
To both acknowledge and dissuade Monica Joan, Val reminds her of the excellent job she did when attending Val’s own birth. But she notes Monica Joan’s cold shouldn’t be passed on to the Queen. With that, she convinces Monica Joan to come home.
Sgt. Woolf (Trevor Cooper) drives the midwives back to Nonnatus House and assures Monica Joan that he’ll watch over her bag. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) asks a reluctant Nurse Crane to invite the sergeant to the kitchen. He angles for a piece of the house’s acclaimed cake, but Crane coldly ignores his hint and offers cookies instead.
The Perils of Illegal Abortion
Catherine Hindman (EMILY BARBER) shares her secret with her sister Lesley Whyte (JORDON STEVENS).
No sooner has Val rescued one woman when another appears from out of the night.
Lesley Whyte, whose home birth Lucille attended earlier in this episode, brings her sister Catherine to the Nonnatus House door, in dire need of medical help.
The aspiring model has been ill for days after seeing “a woman” to get rid of her pregnancy. She was told her body would expel the fetus, but it hasn’t and she’s weak and in great pain. The siblings didn’t go to the hospital, because they fear Catherine will be arrested: abortion is illegal.
Not wanting to draw the visiting sergeant’s attention, Val quietly ushers the sisters to a bathroom. Sister Frances trails behind with a requested enamel bowl and briefly witnesses the scene before being sent away again.
As during childbirths on Call the Midwife, this scene does not cut quickly away from pain or blood. After delivering the dead fetus, Catherine is gray and nearly unconscious. Val consults with Sister Julienne, Sister-In-Charge of the house, saying she suspects that material left inside Catherine after the abortion has led to infection. They call for an ambulance.
“Did we do the right thing bringing her in?” Val asks Julienne.
“The word midwife means ‘with woman.’” Sister Julienne answers. “A woman in that situation needs somebody by her side whatever mistakes or choices brought her to our door.” She leaves to accompany Catherine to hospital.
Sister Frances is cleaning the blood-stained bathroom floor when Val comes to help her and say, “Sorry, I should have shielded you.”
“Why? … I came here to do God’s work,” Frances protests.
Angry at the misery this back-alley abortion caused, Val replies bitingly, “If this is God’s work, I’m surprised you want anything to do with him.”
Catherine’s womb was lacerated by instruments used in the abortion, which she did not receive at a medical facility, but in “a house.” At the hospital, she receives an operation to treat her womb and make sure no remains of the fetus are inside.
“Thank you for not saying I deserved this,” Catherine says to Sister Julienne.
When she awakes with her sister Lesley by her side, she learns the surgery team removed her womb. She wasn’t asked. She wanted a baby one day.
Lesley asks if she’s going to report the unnamed woman who performed the abortion. Catherine won’t, but Lesley goes to the Sergeant at the Darras Street Police Station to try to open an investigation into the woman. He argues that Catherine must make a statement, or at least provide a name or location.
What Are the Odds of Three?
Nurse Trixie Franklin (Helen George) helps the pregnant Mrs. Lombardi (Jessica Clark).
Mrs. Lombardi is pregnant with twins, and already has two sons. Her husband isn’t adept as a caretaker for children, but he is concerned about his wife, who is advised to be on bedrest at the maternity ward.
As she goes into labor, Shelagh thinks she might feel three heads in Mrs. Lombardi’s womb and asks Trixie to examine her. It’s two, Trixie confirms. After delivering the first baby, Mrs. Lombardi faces a bigger challege: a breech baby (one that is positioned with its feet towards the birth canal). Though Dr. Turner is called to be present at this more difficult birth, he stands back to let Nurse Crane and the mother do their work. Mrs. Lombardi gives birth to a second girl.
Nurse Crane then detects a third heartbeat. It is triplets! The mother breaks into miserable sobs at the news. The trouble now is the baby is transverse, lying side to side in the womb.
Shelagh helps manipulate the baby’s position externally and leaves the room.
But in short order, Dr. Turner looks at Trixie and says, “This baby needs to be delivered. The heart rate is very rapid.” She leaves the room, knowing exactly what he meant. I didn’t, nor did I understand what it meant when Trixie tells Shelagh, “We need the obstetrics flying squad urgently!”
No, it’s not a squad that will fly in via helicopter. This type of emergency team began in the early 1930s and was deployed when a situation was beyond one midwife’s assistance. Composed of an obstetrician, an anaesthetist and a midwife, the team normally would rush (ie: “fly”) to homes where there were complications in birth.
Mrs. Lombardi’s labors and some forceps help deliver the child, which is silent and appears lifeless. Trixie begins massaging and rubbing the newborn while Shelagh puffs into a hose connected to a water-filled plastic device that also has a tube connecting to the infant’s mouth.
The squad does arrive quickly, but Nurse Crane halts them at the door, as the birth has already occurred and she doesn’t want the mother frightened by the crowd. Trixie and Shelagh continue their efforts to revive the baby.
At last the third baby cries, and so do we.
(We’d like to congratulate Jessica Clark, the actress playing Mrs. Lombardi, on this long scene of childbirths, one which also demanded much of the show composer, whose music built such suspense.)
Later, Trixie seeks out Mrs. Lombardi’s husband in the local pub, no small challenge as she continues her sobriety. She informs the man, bewildered by his family’s rapid growth by three, of the “poorly” baby, who could use his attention, since his wife Margaret is too weak to see her in her separate room.
He leaves the many congratulatory full pints on the table before him and heads to the maternity ward. Trixie, with her tactful way of expressing things in the way they’re best heard, has helped Mr. Lombardi see that he can have a role in caring for his children, too.
What’s Left Undone
Sister Hilda (FENELLA WOOLGAR) and Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) discuss abortion.
Sergeant Woolf visits Lesley and her husband at their home to try to learn how to find the woman who performed her sister’s abortion. The arrangements of making an appointment were secretive to protect the location. Lesley is adamant that it is the woman who is breaking the law, not those who visit her.
Lesley visits Catherine in the hospital and is surprised to learn she is about to leave. Catherine has a hard set to her face and says she’ll restart her career plans and “go out West.” Lesley asks if she’ll talk to the police before she leaves town. No, Catherine wants it all to be in the past. But she’ll carry the shame wherever she goes.
At Nonnatus House, Sister Hilda tells Julienne that she’s discussed the abortion case with Sister Frances and remembers a woman she once once attended who used a screwdriver to perform her own abortion. “If no one speaks out, where will it end?” Hilda asks. “It will end where it always ends,” says Julienne. “In silence.”
In Call the Midwife Season 8, Episode 1, the birth of the Queen’s baby boy is celebrated.
Before closing with words of philosophical wisdom from the narrator, scenes unfold to the tune of buoyant song “I Like It,” by Gerry & the Pacemakers, a number one hit from 1963. The Lombardi family pose for photos, Fred returns Sister Monica Joan’s bag to her door, and the Nonnatus family and friends celebrate the birth of Queen Elizabeth’s new baby boy, Prince Edward, born March 10, 1964.
For more background on the year the midwives and sisters are living through, see our 1964 highlights of songs, films, advances in medicine and science and more. Watch the next seven Call the Midwife episodes on Sundays at 8pm. Episodes will stream for two weeks after broadcast.
The last book in the trilogy begun by Jennifer Worth’s New York Times bestseller and the basis for the PBS series Call the Midwife
When twenty-two-year-old Jennifer Worth, from a comfortable middle-class upbringing, went to work as a midwife in the poorest section of postwar London, she not only delivered hundreds of babies and touched many lives, she also became the neighborhood’s most vivid chronicler. Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End is the last book in Worth’s memoir trilogy, which the Times Literary Supplement described as “powerful stories with sweet charm and controlled outrage” in the face of dire circumstances.
Here, at last, is the full story of Chummy’s delightful courtship and wedding. We also meet Megan’mave, identical twins who share a browbeaten husband, and return to Sister Monica Joan, who is in top eccentric form. As in Worth’s first two books, Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times and Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse, the vividly portrayed denizens of a postwar East End contend with the trials of extreme poverty–unsanitary conditions, hunger, and disease–and find surprising ways to thrive in their tightly knit community.
A rich portrait of a bygone era of comradeship and midwifery populated by unforgettable characters, Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End will appeal to readers of Frank McCourt, Katherine Boo, and James Herriot, as well as to the fans of the acclaimed PBS show based on the trilogy.
Table of Contents
‘Youth’s a Stuff Will Not Endure’
Three Men Went into a Restaurant…
Trust a Sailor
Meg the Gipsy
Mave the Mother
Madonna of the Pavement
The Master’s Arms
Too Many Children
Stranger than Fiction
The Captain’s Daughter
On the Shelf
Farewell to the East End
Glossary of obstetric terms
‘I’m sorry but this is a completely dreadful way to convalesce,” says Trixie, wearing a dozen layers, while grimly peeling potatoes in a stone-cold, gloomy church. But the chill is shortlived – this is the Call the Midwife Christmas special (BBC One), after all, and you’re in for an hour-and-a-half of so much radiated warmth you may as well turn down the central heating.
It’s 1964 and the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House – all recovering from flu – have decamped. It’s Mother Mildred’s idea, or rather God’s. They are off to somewhere nursing is needed, with no doctor, an inhospitable climate and “fickle” running water and electricity: the Outer Hebrides. It’s beautiful, but no spa holiday. “I detect an animal odour underfoot,” says Mother Mildred (Miriam Margolyes) as they enter the cavernous church-cum-youth-hostel that is their accommodation.
Our heroines hire bikes and open a clinic in the village hall, all to the backdrop of stirring bagpiping and stunning scenery. Mother Mildred is expecting a rush and has broken out the biscuits: “I feel that the sacrifice of the gypsy creams was warranted.” A couple, the wife heavily pregnant, have just “rowed across from the lighthouse”. Oh dear, you know that means drama ahead.
“The word was you were from London,” says a woman with a pram, looking suspiciously at Lucille, one of the Windrush generation who has come to bolster the still-new NHS. “We’re all from London – including me,” replies Lucille, who regularly has to put up with this sort of thing. The hall is filling up nicely. “I think just one gypsy cream apiece, Nurse Dyer,” says Mother Mildred.
But – help! – the midwives have their first emergency. A woman in a Land Rover has given birth to a lovely baby, tucked into her cardigan, but not its placenta. Behind a privacy curtain in the hall, some of it comes out. “We have a placenta but it’s incomplete,” booms Mother Mildred to Dr Turner. It’s looking bad – she won’t get to a hospital for hours. But then Trixie delivers good news, and a nugget of afterbirth. “Placenta complete,” she says, triumphantly.
Then, like the waves lapping the islands’ shores, the dramas keep coming. A young girl suffers burns after her nightie catches fire; her teenage cousin, unhappy, has a drinking problem. Then Janet, the woman from the lighthouse, goes into labour and it is discovered, shortly afterwards, that she also has acute appendicitis. There’s a storm and no way to get her off the island. Dr Turner will have to operate on the kitchen table, the scalpel will be boiled and the sheets might get a hot iron if there’s time. “The last time I took an appendix out was in Italy in 1944,” says a nervous Dr Turner. It doesn’t help that the electricity has just gone out, but here’s Fred, the nuns’ handyman, with an oil lamp and a queasy look on his face. “Gently does it,” says the doctor, deep in concentration – a familiar feeling to anyone who’s just played a festive game of Operation. He pulls out a quivering, meaty slug. “Good grief,” he says, “that’s about three times the usual size and it’s full of pus.” It’s enough to put you off your leftovers.
Sister Monica Joan had turned up earlier, travelling to the island on the hunt for a white stag: “She believes she might encounter Jesus Christ that way,” says Sister Frances. She makes it, via a bit of minor manipulation, a dip into the petty cash and some fare dodging. Mother Mildred is not amused. “I will decide what measures are required. First I must be fortified with scones!” Some extra cream and jam, please, for Margolyes who has heaped life and humour on the show, keeping (just) the right side of panto performance. I love her.
For people who aren’t fans, Call the Midwife is still dismissed as cosy telly, but they miss how radical it is – especially at this moment. It’s an alternate universe where wise, practical (“I’ve no quarrel with a good stout gumboot”), compassionate middle-aged women are in charge, and the highest calling is to help others. It’s a love letter to the wonders of community and universal healthcare.
This episode takes belonging as its overarching theme. “It’s a very great gift in life, to know where you belong,” says the soothing Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter; I love her too). There’s a lovely scene between Phyllis and the troubled teenager Effie, who doesn’t feel she belongs on the islands. I think this is where I started sniffling, and didn’t really stop.
The nuns don’t belong there (something to do with their clash with the islanders’ strict Presbyterianism); nor does Dr Turner who has a brief fantasy about applying for the GP vacancy. So it’s back to Poplar, where kind Miss Higgins wants to help Reggie break the world record for making the longest paper chain – the whole community helps out. It gives Vanessa Redgrave, in her voiceover at the end, the chance to say something about the links that bind us all. Redgrave always gets me. “Christmas is not a competition but the prize itself,” she says. “A gathering and a sharing of the things that matter most. It is of no consequence whether we’re the biggest or the brightest, whether we’re the strongest, the bravest or the most inclined to win.” Give me her benediction over the Queen’s speech any day.
Contains spoilers for Call The Midwife season 8.
After Call The Midwife season eight ended in March 2019, it was announced the BBC had commissioned three more series of the popular show, including three Christmas specials.
The 2019 Christmas special kicked things off again and now season nine is in full swing.
Here’s everything you need to know…
Call The Midwife season nine: When’s it on TV?
Following 2019’s Christmas special set in the Outer Hebrides, the 8-part series nine began on Sunday 5 January at 8pm on BBC One.
Call The Midwife season nine: Who’s in it?
Call The Midwife season nine: What’s it about?
Series eight focused heavily on the issue of women turning to back street abortions because they were unable to receive a termination legally provided by the NHS. Expect to see this continue in series nine, with the midwives campaigning for women’s rights to safe and legal abortion.
As well as tackling sensitive social issues, expect to see more twists and turns in the personal lives of our Nonnatus House favourites, from Valerie coming to terms with her grandmother’s imprisonment to Lucille finding romance with Cyril.
The BBC has shared a synopsis:
“Opening with the funeral of Winston Churchill in January 1965, series nine then continues with Nonnatus House entering a bold and innovative era. As the tower blocks multiply, and a new East End rises from the ashes of the old, society becomes more prosperous, but more complex. Our familiar team of medics and midwives face unexpected challenges as the population shifts, rules change, and old diseases come back to haunt them. Alongside the joy and optimism of birth, they must cope with cases including diphtheria, drug abuse, cancer, tuberculosis, and fistula. Meanwhile, their own experiences are fuelled by love, loss, and doubt – and the very fabric of their lives is jeopardised when Nonnatus itself comes under threat of demolition,” the channel said.
Heidi Thomas added: “After a magical Christmas experience in the Hebrides featuring wild seas, stormy skies and some very disobedient sheep, we return to the harsher reality of city life in 1965. Society is changing fast and in series nine we will see Nonnatus House shaken to its foundations.”
Call the Midwife – Complete Collection Series 1 to 7 + Christmas Specials (19 DVD Box Set) amazon.co.uk £45.98 Call The Midwife Series 8 amazon.co.uk £10.99 Call the Midwife – Series 1-3 amazon.co.uk £15.83 Call the Midwife – Series 1 amazon.co.uk £4.23
Watch this space for more Call The Midwife news…
Call The Midwife season 9 airs Sundays 8pm on BBC One.
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(Neal Street Productions / Sophie Mutevelian)
Is Nonnatus House still in operation? Has the Call the Midwife TV show been cancelled or renewed for an eighth season on PBS? The television vulture is watching all the latest cancellation and renewal news, so this page is the place to track the status of Call the Midwife, season eight. Bookmark it, or subscribe for the latest updates. Remember, the television vulture is watching your shows. Are you?
What’s This TV Show About?
A PBS historical drama based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife stars Jenny Agutter, Judy Parfitt, Helen George, Laura Main, Stephen McGann, Cliff Parisi, Victoria Yeates, Charlotte Ritchie, Linda Bassett, Jennifer Kirby, Annabelle Apsion, and Leonie Elliott. The post-WWII series centers on the midwives and nuns at Nonnatus House, in the Poplar district of London’s East End. In the seventh season, West Indian nurse Lucille Anderson (Elliott) arrives in Poplar. There, she and the rest of the staff must rise to the challenge of helping unmarried mothers, as deal with threats including leprosy, tokophobia, and stroke resulting from Huntington’s chorea.
O F F I C I A L S T A T U S Call the Midwife has been renewed through season 11 on PBS. Season eight debuts March 31, 2019. Stay tuned for further updates. Want to automatically receive updates about this TV show?
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Because American public television is supported by “Viewers like you,” rather than ads, ratings aren’t all that useful a measure for predicting whether PBS will cancel or renew Call the Midwife for season eight. As with many PBS TV series, this is originally a British program. In UK, Call the Midwife was renewed through season nine on BBC One, back in November of 2016. After seven seasons on the air, stateside, its highly unlikely that PBS will drop it, before it ends its natural run. I’m certain enough that PBS will renew it for season eight, that I’m seeking my supper somewhere else. Still, I’ll keep an eye on the trades for any news about this series. Subscribe for free Call the Midwife cancellation or renewal alerts.
3/4/19 update: The Call the Midwife TV show has been renewed through season 11.
Call the Midwife Cancellation & Renewal Related Links
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- Don’t miss our other TV show status pages.
- Check out our lists of already cancelled and ended TV shows.
What do you think? Are you glad that PBS will air season eight of the Call the Midwife? How would you feel if PBS dropped this TV series, instead?
The Sisters and an emotionally drained Nurse Dyer (Jennifer Kirby) at the Ballroom of Hope dance (Photo Credit: Courtesy of BBC/Neal Street Productions)
Before we dive into the final episode of Call the Midwife’s eighth season, it would probably be a good idea to review what occurred last week. Sister Frances aced her first solo delivery, a father-to-be with a sex addiction jeopardized the health of his wife and child and the identity of Poplar’s injurious back alley abortionist was revealed to be Nurse Dyer’s own gran, Elsie. For more details, check out the complete recap of episode seven here.
The season finale was a very eventful installment, so let’s mention the good news first. We learn that Nurse Crane’s release from hospital is imminent! However, what initially looked like a fast friendship with Dr. Turner’s secretary has become something of an annoyance for Phyllis. Miss Higgins’s handmade get-well card declaring Nurse Crane a frail invalid can’t have done much for their rapport.
So when Sgt. Woolf (whose first name turns out to be Aubrey) shows up for a bedside visit, Phyllis is happy for the intrusion. In fact, Nurse Crane can barely disguise her pleasure when Miss Higgins and Sgt. Woolf start openly flirting in front of her. I’m sure you join in me in looking forward to Phyllis taking her rightful place as the keeper of the rolodex and healer of women with all this Sgt. Woolf nonsense behind us.
In the turn-a-frown-upside-down column this week, the Turners are spending their last precious moments with May before she departs for her previously arranged adoptive family. Shelagh tries to distract herself by planning the Ballroom of Hope, a fundraising dance in aid of purchasing an incubator for the maternity home. But by the end of the episode, (and I think it came as no surprise to anyone) May’s adoption fell through and she’s back home with the Turners for good!
Reggie too has returned to Poplar due to an outbreak of whooping cough at the special needs community where he lives. Violet notices both her men seem to be preoccupied and down in the dumps. She frets herself into a such a state that she breaks into tears in front of Cyril who has stopped by her shop with Lucille’s shopping list. Being the fine gentleman he is, he fetches her a handkerchief and suggests it might be best for Fred and Reggie to talk things out among themselves, free from women’s intiuition.
Mrs. Buckle wisely heeds this advice and gives Fred ten shillings for a boys’ trip to the pub. Over a pint and a shandy, Fred admits he’s having some worrying problems with his “waterworks” and Reggie spills the beans that he’s missing his girlfriend Jane. (After ascertaining that Jane is another resident with Down’s syndrome, Violet plays fairy godmother and reunites the young couple at the ball.)
Jane (Poppy Barrett) and Reggie (Daniel Laurie) at the ball (Photo Credit: Courtesy of BBC/Neal Street Productions)
Realizing that help will have to come looking for Fred, Reggie passes a note to Dr. Turner informing him that “Fred bladder sore. Fred sad.” Dr. Turner reassures Mr. Buckle that his concerns may be premature, and after performing a prostate exam, gives Fred the all clear on his cancer scare.
One of this week’s other characters has not been so fortunate when it comes to cancer. Seventeen-year-old Julie Schroeder (Betsy Coates) has just come home after receiving radiation therapy for Hodgkin’s disease. The doctors have said her treatment options are at an end, so Sister Hilda is assigned to dress her radiation burns and make her more comfortable.
While on her first home visit, Sister Hilda finds that Mrs. Schroeder (Kerry Godliman) is not facing up to the terminal nature of her daughter’s condition. Not only that, she’s pregnant and, according to her husband, hasn’t been seen by a nurse for six months. Lucille joins the Schroeder family health team as the lead midwife and she and Hilda encourage Julie to take part in both the impending birth of her baby sister and the Ballroom of Hope dance (i.e. make the most of whatever time she has left.)
Sister Hilda (Fenella Woolgar) measures Julie Shroeder (Bessie Coates) for her gown (Photo Credit: Courtesy of BBC/Neal Street Productions
But the sequined dress and fancy shoes appear to be all for naught when Julie urgently requires a transfusion for anemia. Dr. Turner goes above the call of duty and transports her to the hospital himself, making it possible for Julie to get to the ball on time. And in classic Call the Midwife fashion, Julie’s stepdad has found a way to express his love for her by repairing the damaged mirror ball and spinning her around the floor in his arms during the father-daughter dance.
The most dramatic storyline of the night of course was the fate of Valerie’s gran. Trixie and Valerie fulfill their due diligence and report Elsie’s criminal activity to Sgt. Woolf, which leads to the elderly woman’s arrest. Elise pleads not guilty, telling the police that Teresa Banley, the young woman who Trixie and Val encountered in the filthy room above the pub, tried to abort the baby herself. Liar, liar pants on fire!
This means the case goes to trial and Valerie has to testify against her own grandmother. The Dyer family turns against her including her cousin Maureen who comes to the clinic to berate Val for being a “stuck-up turncoat”. Lucille puts her bossy pants on and ejects the woman from the premises for being disrespectful to a uniformed professional.
In fact, all the residents of Nonnatus House have Nurse Dyer’s back, including Sister Julienne who accompanies her to court saying,
“Where would I be, if not alongside you? You were born into our hands. Your trials are ours.”
On the stand, Trixie goes rather overboard dragging her friend Jeannie’s death into the middle of things thus undermining her expert testimony. But just as it looks as though Val will have to give evidence against her beloved grandmother, Sister Monica Joan shows up with a new witness. She and Sister Frances have tracked down Cath Hindman (from the season’s first episode) and persuaded her to identify Elsie as her abortionist and share with the court the ordeal that followed her procedure.
After this testimony, Elise changes her plea to guilty which releases Valerie from having to take the stand. She is sentenced to a six-year prison term, which will likely be most, if not the rest, of her life. She and Valerie talk things out before she’s sent away. Elsie seems at peace with the outcome saying it’s just the way the world works and implores her granddaughter to do more.
“Until you girls, with all your training and all your learning, sort something out with the men who make the law, there’ll be names being whispered and money changing hands in every backstreet in England!”
Perhaps once Val has some time to recover from of the personal upheaval that resulted from these events, she’ll find purpose in advocating for changes in women’s reproductive rights. Trixie certainly seems to be on that track with her efforts to bring a women’s advice center to Poplar. How timely and disheartening it is that over fifty years later these issues are circling back again.
Valerie (Jennifer Kirby) talks with her gran Elsie Dyer (Ann Mitchell) in jail (Photo Credit: Courtesy of BBC/Neal Street Productions
So there we have it, another season of Call the Midwife is done and dusted. This is our last chance to talk things over before we depart Poplar for a while. What were your highlights of the season – favorite characters, performances and plotlines? Did anything fall flat in your opinion? The comments await your final evaluations!