Call the Midwife series 5 episode 6 recap: staycations, secrets and danger on the streets of Poplar

The Turners take a break, while a family keeps a huge secret and Poplar's streets become a dangerous place to be alone...

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Nonnatus House is holding a pensioner’s tea party. Doctor Turner misses the fun when he falls asleep on the sofa and Trixie’s wishing she wasn’t there, when an elderly gentlemen decides to pinch her behind. But she’s soon distracted by the arrival of Mrs Thora Hills.

Thora’s pregnant with her fifth, but worryingly they haven’t seen her at the clinic. And the situation is even more complicated than Trixie knows. Thora is actually pretending to be pregnant to protect her unmarried daughter Diane and keep her reputation intact. She’s going to give birth in secret, with Thora’s help, and then Thora will say the baby is hers…

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Barbara and Tom have been on a date to see Whistle Down The Wind at the cinema. They are eating sherbet lollies and kissing in the street when they are interrupted by a woman running from an attacker. They take her back to Tom’s house where he makes her tea and Barbara cleans her wounds, which include a vicious looking bite mark on her neck.

The vicar says the woman, called Lizzie, must go to the police, but she refuses. She’s a prostitute with young children to look after and is scared she’ll be arrested for soliciting. The next day Barbara tells PC Noakes about the woman, saying she looked “like she’d been attacked by an animal” but Noakes confirms the woman’s fears. In the eyes of the law, her attacker is a criminal – but so is she.

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New mum Judith Coleman arrives at clinic with her baby, who won’t stop crying. She thinks there’s something wrong with him but Sister Julienne can’t find a reason to refer him to Doctor Turner. She suggests Judith takes him for a walk in the warm night air if she’s struggling to get him to sleep.

Desperate, and keen to let her husband rest before work the next day, she takes Julienne’s advice and heads off into the night.

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Shelagh has organised a surprise for her exhausted husband. The Turners are going on a camping holiday to the New Forest! She’s organised a locum GP, Dr Godfrey, and they are borrowing equipment (some mouldy, some mouse nibbled) for the jaunt.

Doctor Turner dons a pair of shorts, with sandals and socks, for the occasion. Trixie, Patsy and Sister Winifred try very hard not to laugh. But it can’t be helped when it starts to rain and Barb fetches an old incontinence sheet to keep their luggage dry.

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Sister Julienne drops in on Judith and it’s clear something is wrong. She’s got a facial injury and a bite mark on her neck, but she says she walked into a door.

The nun heads straight to PC Noakes to voice her concern and later on he interrupts tea at Nonnatus with grave news. He thinks Lizzie and Judith have been attacked by the same man.

It could be Judith’s husband, or Judith could be soliciting in secret. Patsy thinks neither are likely so Barbara and PC Noakes go to track down Lizzie in hopes of persuading her to talk. But she won’t – and they can’t do anything without a testimony. Noakes can’t put extra bobbies on the streets without evidence so asks Fred if his Civil Defence Corps volunteers will patrol Poplar to keep people safe. 

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The Turners’ holiday isn’t going to plan. It’s muddy and torrentially raining. Their matches won’t light, Angela is terrified of squirrels and the children’s tent keeps falling down. Patrick finally makes scotch-spiked hot drinks, only to spill his all over his sleeping bag. And he can’t stop thinking about work either. The next day it rains so much that water starts dripping into their tent and the family have had enough. Doctor Turner decides it’s time to pack up and check into a hotel instead. 

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Diane’s waters break while she is working on her stall. Thora puts her sons to bed early and runs Diane a bath. While her labour progresses, she bites down on a flannel so as not to make any noise.

A healthy baby boy is born, but the placenta isn’t. After an hour and a half Thora is starting to panic. She calls Nonnatus for help but the locum GP picks up the phone and misunderstands the call, thinking Thora is one of the trained midwives. He suggests she pull on the cord and puts down the phone. 

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When Doctor Godfrey tells Trixie about the phone call she wakes Sister Mary Cynthia. They both head over to Thora’s house where they find Diane in extreme pain. The misplaced medical advice has lead to Thora pulling too hard.

Diane has had a uterine inversion and needs urgent medical attention. While Trixie tries to rectify the problem, Mary Cynthia heads out into the night to call an ambulance and bumps into Fred on patrol, who escorts her to the telephone and back. When the Flying Squad arrives Trixie accompanies the women to hospital while Sister Mary Cynthia stays behind to clean the kitchen and find someone to look in on Thora’s boys. 

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Sister Mary Cynthia cycles back to Nonnatus as the sun rises, stopping by the docks for a moment of contemplation. And she is attacked, waking up bloodied and beaten. She returns to Nonnatus where a shocked Trixie runs to her.

“Please don’t touch me,” Mary Cynthia shouts. She wasn’t raped, but she has been viciously attacked – and she has a bite mark on her neck. She’d stopped to pray and thought God had been at her shoulder, but it was someone else.

“Don’t talk to me gently, don’t be kind, because I’m angry,” says Mary Cynthia to Sister Julienne. She refuses to be examined by a doctor or to talk to PC Noakes. 

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Sister Julienne goes to speak to Judith, who finally tells her the true story. She went for a walk but it didn’t help and her newborn’s crying got too much for her to bear. She parked the pram and walked away, only to be attacked from behind. She didn’t want to speak to the police because she thought social workers would take her baby away. 

Back at Nonnatus, Sister Monica Joan has helped Mary Cynthia has change her mind. She wants to go to the police and stand up for other women who are too afraid. Her statement leads PC Noakes to Soviet ships and a man with eye-catching tattoos on his hands is arrested. She says she feels lighter and stronger. She can bear more than she thought she could. 

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In hospital, Thora passes Diane her son. “I could have killed you because I didn’t want you ruined,” she says. She’s finished with lies and wants to tell the world the truth. 

Trixie finds the strength to be honest too, revealing to Patsy and Delia that when she says she’s going to art history classes on Tuesday evenings, she’s actually attending Alcoholics Anonymous. “Good for you,” smiles Delia, while Patsy adds: “I think that’s absolutely splendid.”  

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Call the Midwife continues on Sundays at 8pm on BBC1