The women of BBC’s hugely successful Call the Midwife cycled onto our screens in 2012. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, it follows the work of a group of midwives in London’s East End in the late 1950s. Covering every social and medical issue under the sun with grace and a fair amount of tear-jerking, the show is undoubtedly a hit. And yet, I just did not get it.
I could not understand why some people would practically bounce up and down and clap excitedly when this show was mentioned, or why others would sigh dreamily whilst staring out the window and waxing poetic about Nurse Patsy Mount, halfway through their cup of tea.
But after months of refusal, craving a dose of British period drama over the summer, I gave in and watched an episode. And then another. And then, relentlessly, all five seasons within a week. And I can tell you now, this show is a delight. In a television landscape that is dominated by the likes of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, CTM is a breath of fresh air. Where so many shows are now competing to see which can leave their audience the most emotionally exhausted, CTM is the gentle kind of life-affirming Sunday evening TV we all need a little bit of. Its focus on the lives of women of all backgrounds and their relationships with one another is truly unlike any other on TV. The fact that they are also able to portray a loving, lesbian relationship between two main characters better than almost any other show, despite the fact that they have never even kissed onscreen, is a testament to the writing. CTM perfectly balances grit and warmth whilst mostly avoiding falling into uncomfortable sentimentality. The show returns for its annual Christmas special in December, followed by its sixth season later in January, and I am sure there will be just as much tea-drinking, stress-smoking and (very gross) baby-delivering as always.
So, this is my formal apology to everyone I ever rolled my eyes at when gushing about this show, and to the friendships that, because of my stubbornness, were occasionally rockier than Nurse Crane’s cycling (see, I can do references now). You were right, I was wrong. Go ahead and frame this as proof.
I just wish I had given in sooner.