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|Index||18 reviews in total|
If you want history at its truth, watch a documentary. As entertainment this show has it all. Every episode has had me in tears from either laughter or poignancy. The casting is perfect and beautifully shot. It really shows the diverse community that has embedded itself in our culture today. Who cares if the docks were not in the right place! The show is about people coming together in tough times and bonding with a community regardless of class and colour. It makes me yearn for that kind of spirit in todays world where everyone has so much and yet is never satisfied. I really hope the BBC invest in a new series - I already miss Miranda!
I would have scored 10 for this series, except for the fact that it
doesn't truly follow the accounts written in the book from which it is
Some of the diversions from the book are to allow the characters other than Jenny Lee to have stronger story lines, which I can accept to an extent. But some of the story lines have been expanded for dramatic effect, so they are not relying upon the original author's memoirs, but rather the imagination of the scriptwriters, which I think is somewhat regrettable.
Having said that I am finding the series entirely watchable, and enjoyable. All the cast seem to be good, but I must say I am most impressed with Miranda Hart as Chummy, what a brick she is.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first two reviewers say the way the BBC portrayed the East End of
London is incorrect.
Although I was around in the 50s I was not brought up in the East End so cannot comment about that.
Putting this portrayal aside, although I am surprised the BBC would fall down on the historical detail, I was delighted to see that Auntie Beeb has once again commissioned another well worthwhile period drama.
Call The Midwife is set in late 50s East End of London and is, as the title suggests, about a group of midwives who deal with the welfare of pregnant women and of course deliver their babies.
The series is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth who worked as a midwife in London's East End during the 50s, and beyond but who sadly died in 2011.
The cast is extremely well put together which includes the inimitable Pam Ferris who is a midwife, but also a nun, Judy Parfit, also a nun but is apparently slipping into senility and Jenny Agutter, yet another nun.
Together with these and other nuns are the midwives who share a home with the nuns.
There is some very graphic detail in the series regarding the birth of the babies which can be quite harrowing but at the same time extremely enlightening.
Jessica Raine who plays Jenny Lee is well suited to the starring role but for me the midwife I have truly fallen in love with is Chummy, played by Miranda Hart.
When Chummy arrived she appeared to be accident prone and had only just scraped through her final exams.
Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris) was Chummy's biggest critic but when the chips were down and Chummy had to deliver her very first baby on her own, which was a very difficult breech birth, she showed her true colours and Sister Evangelina had to acknowledge that Chummy was a very valuable addition to team.
One of the plots concerned Conchita Warren, played by Carolina Valdes. This is Carolina's debut on British TV. She had previously only appeared in three Spanish short films. She plays the Spanish wife of painter and decorator Len Warren played by Tim Faraday. Conchita is a Spanish Civil War veteran but cannot speak a word of English.
She has had 24 (twenty four) children and is expecting her 25th. All her children have survived and she is the epitome of motherhood. The love of each and every family member toward each other simply oozes out of the Warren household.
There is a major problem when Conchita gives birth to her 25th child and I must admit these scenes were highly poignant.
Although Carolina Valdes apparently has had a very limited TV acting career thus far she proved herself a very capable actress whilst playing the extremely difficult part of Conchita
All in all this drama has the potential to become an extremely popular series.
One thing that struck me was although the series is set only 54 years ago how primitive midwifery was back then, even though the National Health Service had been set up by then, but only nine years earlier.
What made up for this though is the total dedication the midwives had in their vocation and the care, and indeed love they gave to their expectant mothers and aftercare to the new born babies.
Well done again Auntie Beeb.
I have to say I am a bit of a BBC miniseries junkie. So, I am always looking for a new world to jump into. I have to say that "Call the Midwife" is one of the best series I have seen. I am enchanted by the young girls and their commitment to caring for their community. And what makes it even more perfect is that they work alongside nuns and can see the world through their eyes. I watch this show over and over again hoping to be dazzled once again (and I always am). I don't know how accurate it is (I have not studied the time), but I do think it is a fantastic commentary on poverty, the role of women, and social class differences. If this were only a drama I wouldn't watch it again and again. But the humor (CHUMMY!!) and the light hearted moments among the business of birth is perfect! Truly, I would love to drop myself into that time and live simply where my only goal was to help women and love people well. You will thoroughly enjoy this show it sisterhood, faith, love, and courage interest you.
I don't know whether this is historically accurate and some of the accents are not very Cockney, but this is outstanding drama. For me, Judy Parfitt as the semi-demented Sister Monica Joan is the stand-out -- as the other characters say, ''is she mad, or just seriously eccentric''? Exceptional acting. Also Sister Julienne, while a little earnest, is a lovely character -- wise and spiritual. Jenny Lee as a character leaves me cold. Her love life comes across as a bit clunky but her scenes as a midwife and with the nuns and other nurses are good. Miranda Hart's nurse Chummy is outstanding. It's good to see a series celebrating women's work and issues. Bring on season two. UPDATE: Well, season two turned out to be a lot schmaltzier than the first season. The voice-over at the start and finish is starting to get very sugary. And there's been far more cute happy endings and less messiness. It's all a bit one-dimensional. Why are the nurses' love lives so boring? Why don't we see their family background? Why has the East End suddenly turned into some squeaky clean film set? Much as we love Chummy, where can she go from here? They'll have to introduce new characters, and rev up some of the existing ones, if they want to keep me watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I do agree with those reviewers who have pointed out that this is not a documentary but a drama. Yes indeed some details are wrong ( I grew up in the UK in this era so have some knowledge of it, tho not quite so grindingly poor) True, that the nuns are not, to me, very believable, appearing, apart from the lovely chanted prayers, to have no spiritual life or discipline at all . Still they are good TV , though not as utterly great TV as Miranda Hart as Chummy. I think it unlikely that Lady Fortescue Cholmondley -Brown would have capitulated as easily as she did, but who cares .It was worth it if only for Chummy's line "Sorry Mater, not entitled any more" when exhorted to wear white for her wedding...
As I was a student nurse in the East End of London during the mid
fifties,(now an ex-pat living in Mexico) this series brings back many
memories. I'm glad that some episodes include general nursing and even
male patients as well as midwifery. Perhaps doctors were not always as
good as the nurses in those days.I even remember an anaesthetist who
sat doing his crossword puzzles during operations and no one dared
utter a word of reproach.
Now that the East End is suddenly fashionable, even Shoreditch and Brick Lane, what has happened to Wapping where I trained and which used to be so scruffy?
One thing has changed for the better. In those far off days when a woman was admitted with an attempted abortion, euphemistically called "incomplete abortion", the police had to be notified and a policewoman would sit by the bed (drinking tea with the night nurse) until the unfortunate patient (who probably already had half a dozen children at least) was well enough to be arrested.
This is a wonderful television series for women of all ages! Somehow
the subject of child-birth, and everything around it, never stops
fascinating. Whether you are a young woman with it all in front of you,
or past child-bearing age - it is forever interesting! :-) This series
really have it all: humour and high drama, sorrow and happiness, love
of all kinds, interesting characters, and a touch of religion. It is
also educating: you learn a lot about midwifery, medicine, and modern
The actors are all great for their parts - I could not find fault with anyone of them! I could relate most easily to Miranda Hart/Chummy, as I am also tall for being a woman - or at least I was considered very tall when I was young. (Nowadays there are quite a few young girls the same height as I.) I can still remember the problems with people staring and having to comment on my height, with many otherwise interesting men being shorter than myself, the feeling of being ungainly, the self-doubts... In fact, I also had dreams of entering a convent from exactly the wrong reasons - just the same as Chummy (to get out of the love-searching once and for all, and not having to think about it anymore).
The reason I am not giving this series 10 stars, though, is that I have read the books, and I think the television producers have changed too much. I can in some cases see that the revised version of an event makes better television - but as the books are supposed to be non-fiction, I think this was still wrong. There can still be real people out there who are alive, and have to watch important memories from their youth or child-hood pictured in the wrong way.
I was a schoolchild in London in 1957, so I watched this programme expecting to see the London I remember recreated. I had to go to school on the tube and underground. I was from north London, but quite a few of my school friends came from East London. When I went to tea with them after school, their homes were clean and perfectly respectable. One thing I do remember though, was the warehouses and the docks were strictly out of bounds, although we could, and did, play on the bomb sites. I still have friends who were brought up in East London in the 1950s. I think this series is based on the exceptional cases rather than the normal ones. Certainly there were homes in the area, which had survived the bombing and had outside toilets and tin baths. In my experience, my friends' Mums kept their flats immaculately clean inside. The, houses, warehouses and the dock walls were all blackened with soot from the railways. 1957 was before the clean air act and fogs and smogs were common. It was good to see people getting about by bicycle, cars were few in the 1950s and mostly black saloons. I don't remember meeting or seeing any exceptionally large families. All the friends and family I had and now have, who were born and brought up in east London, are either only children, or have one or two siblings. I will watch the rest of the series with interest.
Whether or not this series' depiction of the East End in the 50's is completely accurate or not seems of little relevance to me. The characters are very likable and the acting, even by the guest actors, is brilliant. However, the main reason I love and wholeheartedly recommend Call the Midwife is because it is so well written, without avoiding the harsh realities of life yet filled with hope and incredible human connection. Miraculously, it manages this without ever becoming cheesy. Every episode leaves me feeling proud to be a human being. I don't think many TV series are able or even try to achieve this and it feels especially important in our times when faith in humanity seems to be in decline.
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