Jessica Raine: Call the Midwife isn’t cosy viewing

The actress who plays Jenny says there's more to the 50s-set drama than people give it credit for

Favourite TV role?


I have to say Call the Midwife, as Jenny was the first rounded character I have played on TV. She is so reserved and observant and cares very deeply about things – and yet she is quite mysterious. I don’t know very much about this man that she is seeing and that is quite exciting. I have read the books and met her family but I don’t really know what the writer has in store.

We start filming the second series in June and I am totally thrilled with the way it has been received – although I get a bit annoyed when people describe it as cosy – there are really grisly stories and its very lefty in its politics – and yes, it is wrapped up in this 50s nostalgia, but it is more than that.

Worst moment on screen?

I feel very guilty about the way we treated some of the babies on the Midwife set. It is so tricky working with babies – not because they cried all the time, actually, but because they were always sleepy and, in the scenes where they had just been born, we needed them to cry, so… I had to blow on their faces and I felt evil.

Favourite role on stage?

I liked playing Sarah Regan in Harper Regan at The National. I loved that part because she was northern and gothy and grumpy and railed against the world in this very articulate way that made complete sense to me. It was fun to rail and feel the doom and gloom in the audience.

Worst moment on stage?

Recently in The Changeling we had something called “the party room” on stage, which was a soundproofed room from which the audience could just about hear loud music or shouting. It had a rubber-sealed door, which you had to really pull to close properly.

After one scene I had to storm into it with the actor playing my father and he slammed the door a bit too hard and snapped the handle. We then had a sharp cue and obviously couldn’t get out – and however loud we shouted, nobody realised we were in trouble…

What are the challenges of going from TV to the stage?

Having been on a TV set for Midwife, going back to the stage was very nerve-racking. Before the first preview of The Changeling I was on the floor in my dressing room holding my stomach thinking, ‘I can’t go on!’ but there is something about the stage that is very magical.

Jessica Raine recently played Beatrice-Joanna in The Changeling at the Young Vic.


See pictures and interviews with Britain’s leading actors – including Joseph Mawle, Russell Tovey, Eve Myles, Celia Imrie, Mackenzie Crook, Anne-Marie Duff, Jessica Raine, Kara Tointon, Tom Chambers, Ben Miller and many more – in Radio Times magazine’s fantastic Olivier Awards special! Also in the new issue: Paul Weller, Jools Holland, Pamela Stephenson, Mary Beard, Clare Balding, Two Greedy Italians and Dara O Briain. In shops now.