Who will you vote for to win the Radio Times Audience Award at the Television Baftas 2013? We’ve got an in-house advocate for each of the six nominees. Here, Ellie Walker-Arnott explains why you should get behind Call the Midwife…
This year’s nominees are a pretty special bunch. But if you ask me, the other five programmes aren’t a patch on Call the Midwife…
Yes, Strictly’s got glitz, glamour and dancing, but so does the disco down in Poplar. Homeland’s nail-biting moments are on a par with any of Call the Midwife’s births and while The Great British Bake Off may make your mouth water, there’s cake aplenty in the Nonnatus House kitchen. The Olympic Opening Ceremony might have had you holding back the tears, while Game of Thrones has got more dragons, desire and death than you can shake a stick at but (asides from the dragons) Call the Midwife’s got it all…
Drama and disaster, loss and grief, lust and loneliness, new life and new loves. Plus Poplar’s ‘ready to pop’ patients and the merry midwives themselves: Miranda Hart doing (almost) serious acting with her lovely plummy accent, gregarious Trixie and her Marilyn Monroe wardrobe, unlucky-in-love Jenny, sweet Cynthia, eccentric Sister Monica Joan, moral powerhouses Sister Evangeline and Sister Julienne and the unbearably bittersweet Sister Bernadette.
As soon as Vanessa Redgrave utters her first soothing syllable, I’m hooked. Add a couple of bicycle bells and a fifties floral dress and I’m in period drama heaven.
You can put down those rose-tinted spectacles, though, because there’s more to Call the Midwife than schmaltz and soppy sentiment. This BBC drama does tough and it does it well, delicately dramatising grueling and gritty issues like poverty, prostitution, abuse, abortion, neglect, newborn fatalities and racial prejudice.
Yet before you start feeling all forlorn, CTM gives you a little slice of light relief – a wise crack from one of the nuns, the odd trip to the pictures, a much needed bakewell tart – to make it heart-warming, and not heartbreaking.
You can snuggle down in front of it on a Sunday night, enjoy the period touches, the pretty 50s dresses and the array of baked goods but clever Call the Midwife can’t fail to make you feel something. Whether it’s gratitude for medical advances which make labour much less dangerous nowadays, social reforms which mean living in cramped and unsanitary slums is a thing of the past and the huge cultural changes which make modern life as a twenty-something woman a million miles away from the minefield it was in 1958… Or just admiration for your mum, empathy for your friends and love for your nearest and dearest.
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