Jessica Raine has been spotted away from the cobbled streets of Poplar this year, appearing in Doctor Who adventure Hide and An Adventure in Space and Time as BBC producer Verity Lambert. But it’s her role as sensible midwife Jenny Lee that we all know and love her for.
This Christmas we are reacquainted with a slightly softer Jenny, who has found herself a rather handsome boyfriend: Alec, who you might remember from the end of series two.
“We’ve moved on about two months and Alec and Jenny have clearly been dating,” Raine tells us. “As far as I have read so far it’s a relationship where I think they are really into each other.”
Raine, who thinks the lovebirds’ relationship could be “quite sparky”, is looking forward to finding out what Jenny is like when she’s in love.
“I’m hoping a naughtier side comes out!” she laughs. “We’ll see... I’m looking forward to getting some spark, some flirts.”
“I don’t know quite yet how I’m going to play Jenny in a relationship because she’s always on the outskirts of something and not quite letting go but she’s clearly found someone who floats her boat. Finally.”
Jenny and Alec aren’t left alone to whisper sweet nothings this Christmas, though… The festive special sees the midwives’ Christmas thrown into disarray when an unexploded WW2 bomb is found in Poplar.
“Nonnatus House is really called to,” says Raine. “I guess because the nuns and nurses know the community so well. They are the first ones at the rescue centre and they prepare it all and get it all ready for the surge of people who have been evacuated.”
But, naturally, the potentially explosive goings on aren't going to distract the girls from the arrival of new life in the East End. “Something that’s never happened, ever before, at a birth happens," says Raine. “You see Jenny and Trixie working together as a team a lot more... We are very much championing the future way of midwifery.”
It might be Christmas, but “there’s a theme just of, if anything, not perfection,” continues Raine. “Everyone has the Christmas card image of blankets of snow and sitting round a big table and actually I think this episode nails, ‘you don’t actually need all of that’. Which I think is actually a more interesting slant on it, rather than having the old Christmas table full of bountiful food.”
Bountiful table or not, when it comes to Raine’s real life Christmas, you can be sure it involves watching the Call the Midwife festive episode.
“[Watching it last year] was weird but not a bad weird. It’s just strange. I never expected that, ever to happen,” says Raine. “I was at home hosting Christmas so I was a bit frazzled and drunk. But you know obviously the people with me hadn’t seen it so it was quite nerve-wracking.”
This year, hopefully, Raine can relax a little more, safe in the knowledge that the show's dedicated fan base will enjoy the episode. "I’m thrilled with how it went down last year. This year… fingers crossed."
Call the Midwife returns on Christmas Day at 6:15pm on BBC1.