Red cardi? Check! Vintage bicycle? Check! Victoria sponge…?
Hit BBC1 period drama Call the Midwife is back this Sunday, bringing with it a whole host of fresh faces and new, tear-jerking dramas. Plus loads and loads of newborn babies, obviously.
But what else can we expect from Chummy, Trixie and co in series four?
1. There will be a proposal
This is not a drill. Call the Midwife series four features an engagement ring. Trixie may have been the unlucky-in-love one for much of the drama to date, but her fortunes are turning around. Whether she says ‘Yes’ to charming curate Tom is another matter. “It’s really nice to see the relationship grow throughout the series. It’s been fun,” was all we could coax out of Helen George…
2. Poplar’s going high-rise
Timothy’s silver Christmas tree was a sign of things to come. It’s not all about the period charm of Nonnatus House anymore. “We’ve had the noise of the building and the demolition going on for a couple of series now. Now we’re seeing characters in these modern high-rise flats. It’s amazing. It puts this big pop of colour visually onto screen but there’s something symbolic for me about people moving into these high-rise with a huge sense of optimism. They suddenly have broader horizons,” series creator Heidi Thomas told us.
3. Everyone will have fabulous hairstyles
“Visually it’s starting to look different and we’ve got some fabulous hairstyles, courtesy of Stella, who’s our hair and makeup artist,” says Thomas. “Patsy’s beautiful beehive is coming into view and Trixie’s got a bit of height at the back.” Hairspray at the ready, girls.
4. No one will wear kinky boots
What, no kinky boots? It might be the 60s but hold your horses, PVC fans. “[The girls are] starting to move more easily and freely. They wear slightly shorter things to the knee and things are just slightly less structured,” says Thomas, adding: “I don’t think it would help us if we suddenly had everybody running around in kinky boots and bubble helmets because that’s not yet – that’s in about four years time.”
5. There will be more heart wrenching storylines
There might be bonny babies and heart-warming morals, but it wouldn’t be Call the Midwife if we weren’t left in a soggy, sobbing heap at the end. And that’s not set to change one bit in series four. “One thing we’re starting to think about now is thalidomide, which obviously had a huge impact,” says Thomas, adding: “We’ve got a stillbirth storyline which we’re incredibly proud of.”
“In one episode – and I don’t think this is a spoiler – we deal with some children that are found in a very badly neglected condition. My sister-in-law works in the family courts as a solicitor, so she works with very vulnerable and abused children, and I got the inspiration from that from something she told me with tears rolling down her face.”
6. The pill isn’t about to make an appearance
Think the 1960s were all about free love and sexual liberation? Think again. “A lot of people talk about the pill and say, ‘You’ll have to finish in 1961 because of the pill’,” says Thomas. “Actually, although the pill was patented and licensed in 1961, it didn’t make its way out into the community until 63 or 64. And then – this is what staggered me –it was not available on the National Health until 1974. You could go to Marie Stopes charity or similar charities. You had to be referred by your GP and he would only refer you if you were married.”
7. There will be more diversity
“One of the things I want to do is show characters form other cultures who are having experiences which are not just about race,” said Thomas. “We have always been very diverse in our approach and we really do feel that as it’s now 1960, it’s time to reflect the changes going on in the East End.”
8. And lots of happy babies
Keep your eyes peeled for an inappropriately smily tot. “We had a baby that was meant to be ill today and you’ve never seen a child look so happy. Could he not even just look tired for a minute?” laughed Thomas, when we met her on set.
Call the Midwife returns on Sunday at 8:00pm on BBC1