Call the Midwife’s Jack Ashton on filming Charlotte Ritchie’s emotional scenes – and his future on the BBC drama

“I was lamenting the loss of someone I care about and I’d just had a baby, so I started sobbing”

Jack Ashton and Charlotte Ritchie, Call the Midwife (BBC, EH)

**SPOILER ALERT – DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN CALL THE MIDWIFE EPISODE SEVEN**

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Call the Midwife star Jack Ashton has revealed he cried real tears while filming his final scenes with on-screen wife, Barbara.

In an interview in this week’s issue of Radio Times, Ashton – who plays the show’s vicar Tom Hereward – spoke of how he filmed Charlotte Ritchie’s on-screen death just after his real-life partner and co-star, Helen George, had given birth to their daughter Wren Ivy.

“We did all Barbara’s deathbed scenes in the hospital two days after Wren was born and I hadn’t slept, so finding the delirium and the madness was quite easy,” he explained.

“Filming those scenes was emotional because we all love Charlotte. We knew we were acting – but we also knew we were saying goodbye…

“It’s emotional thinking about it now… I was lamenting the loss of someone I care about and I’d just had a baby, so I started sobbing… with snot and tears everywhere.

“The director asked if I could stop and cry for the next take, but I didn’t think I could stop crying at all – I definitely couldn’t stop and start again – so I said, ‘You might have to see what you can do with that take’.”

Call the Midwife fans were devastated by Barbara’s shocking death, and Ashton said that even the cast hadn’t had much time to prepare for her departure. “We were aware that Char would be going at some point, but we didn’t know for sure until we got the scripts,” he revealed.

“But if Radio Times readers are shell-shocked, we do end the series this week on a lighter note – poignant, still emotional, but a lighter note.”

On whether that may involve Tom getting back together with his old flame Trixie (Helen George’s character in the show), Ashton simply laughed. “No… can you imagine?” he said. “I don’t think he would be forgiven if he was looking at potential suitors at his wife’s wake. Tom is grieving and will be grieving for some time.

“Men at that time were quite buttoned-up, but I thought, ‘He’s just got married. He’s in love. He’s got the whole world ahead of him, and then this fells him.’ It’s a really, really sad end.”

What does he mean by “end”? Will Tom not be returning to Call the Midwife next year?

“We shall see. Maybe he’s in series eight and maybe he isn’t.”

The 35-year-old actor did reveal that he has Tom’s back story written in a little book that he reads to help him get into character – although he tries not to let his partner see. “If Helen saw me reading my book, she’d say, ‘You’ve been doing this for five years!’” he laughs.

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“But that’s our relationship. We take the mickey out of each other all the time. What’s great is, she understands the stress of acting and how an intense role can alter your personality at home while you’re doing it – which is a difficult thing.”