Call the Midwife advisor Terri Coates: “It’s make-believe but it can affect people very deeply”

The BBC1 period drama's advisor on why sad stories aren't treated "more specially or sensitively than any of the births"

Call the Midwife wouldn’t be the show we know and love if it didn’t leave us reaching for the tissues at the end of the episode, but this series has been exceptionally sad. 

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In fact, last Sunday’s episode featured a storyline where an expectant mother lost one of her twins in the womb. It was a heart-wrenching episode, which dealt face-on with the affects of infant mortality. But the show’s advisor, experienced midwife Terri Coates, says episodes like that aren’t “treated any more specially or sensitively than any of the births.”

“I think we give equal weight to all of them,” she told RadioTimes.com.

Not that certain scenes don’t effect cast and crew more than others: “Just as it upsets people watching it, it also upsets the actors and actresses – and myself too.”

“It is a sad storyline. Just thinking about and going through the story is actually quite hard because you’re thinking about the loss of a child and how it will affect that family. It’s dealt with incredibly sensitively and people are given the chance to talk about it,” she continues. “It’s make-believe but it can affect people very deeply.” 

“Whenever anything like that happens it will trigger recognition and memory of lost babies. It’s never treated lightly and it’s never done without a lot of research into how it would affect not just the mother but the father, the family, the midwives, the whole community.”

Coates tells us the prosthetic dolls used in birth scenes like last Sunday’s are “treated incredibly sensitively” but that her main concern is always the welfare of the “very live newborns”.

“We have very, very strict guidelines about the number of minutes the babies are allowed on set. The parents are always very close by and I’m never more than a few centimetres away. I’m usually kneeling in a puddle at the side of the bed.”

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Call the Midwife continues on Sunday at 8:00pm on BBC1