It’s impossible not to be moved by Call the Midwife‘s Nurse Trixie Franklin’s emotional vulnerability at the end of episode five as she admits to herself – and to her friends, and to her boss – that she is in deep trouble.
Devastated by a difficult decision she had to make to take three children away from their mother because of her Huntington’s Disease, and by her recent break-up with Christopher, Helen George’s character Trixie has relapsed into alcoholism.
After drinking sherry with her patients and secretly swigging vodka in the bathroom and skipping her support group meetings, Nurse Franklin reaches breaking point and approaches Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) to say she needs help. The head Sister thanks her for her honesty and tells her to go away for six months of treatment – and return to Nonnatus House when she has recovered.
But not to worry, because Helen George is absolutely returning to Call the Midwife!
In case you’ve not noticed the bump beneath Trixie’s blue dress and the midwife’s sudden desire to wear baggy capes and carry large objects directly in front of her stomach, Helen George was actually pregnant during filming. She carried on working until the bump couldn’t be hidden any more. Baby Wren, her daughter with co-star Jack Ashton, arrived three weeks early in September.
With Trixie sent off to recover, episode five will contain her final scenes before the actress herself had to go on maternity leave. But this is definitely not the last we will see of her on Call the Midwife.
“Helen was able to graciously retire – she just had a couple of episodes off,” creator Heidi Thomas revealed at a screening in London before Christmas. “But we were working towards that.”
George explained: “I was pregnant in the series, so you just kind of see me walk across the screen sometimes with odd fashions, or I’d sit down a lot, or I’m wearing lots of capes.
“It wasn’t a correct storyline to choose for the character, as well. It wasn’t right for Trixie to be pregnant. So we just did our best to cover it up.”