Call the Midwife Christmas special preview: a worrying disappearance, a welcome return and a surprise arrival

Christmas is the hardest time of year for some, while Sister Monica Joan discovers the joy of television as the Nonnatus nuns return to our TV screens

It’s 1960 and Christmas is approaching. But you wouldn’t know it at Nonnatus House.

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Nowadays foil-wrapped Santas adorn supermarket tills from the end of September and Christmas seems to officially start the minute we blow out our Halloween pumpkins, but that’s not the case in Poplar. The nuns don’t approve of decorations before 18th December, so the festivities must be put on hold until then – much to the distress of a certain occupant, who is desperate to deck Nonnatus’ halls with yards of tinsel.

We’ve also got a worrying disappearance, a welcome return and a surprise arrival in this year’s festive offering. Plus the good ol’ telly box gets a staring role. The BBC are in Poplar to broadcast their simple carol service to the nation while Sister Monica Joan has discovered the joy of television – “It is the portal to much happiness” – and won’t rest until Nonnatus has its own set. (And presumably a Radio Times subscription to boot.)

As ever, Call the Midwife refuses to steer away from darkness, especially the unique pain this dark time of year can bring. We get a generous helping of snowflakes, carol singing and Quality Street, but also a reminder that Christmas often isn’t all mistletoe and mulled wine. It can be the hardest time of year, where loneliness becomes more pronounced and families are reminded of who isn’t sat around their celebratory table.

The message is one of kindness, thoughtfulness and resilience. It’s not 75 minutes of misery. There are light, funny and uplifting moments. But you’re still likely to shed a cathartic tear or two, if only in a nostalgic, heart-warming kind of way. This is Call the Midwife after all… 

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Call the Midwife is on Christmas Day at 7:30pm on BBC1