December may be a distant prospect on this sunny springtime day, but the Call the Midwife Christmas special has already finished filming – and the BBC has released the first-look image of our favourite nurses having a ‘baaaa-d’ bus trip in the Outer Hebrides.
This year’s festive episode will see the team heading for the remote, idyllic Scottish island, where the residents have a desperate need for nurses and midwives.
“Exposed to the elements, they operate in bleak conditions with limited access to water and electricity to help their patients, just in time to reconvene in Poplar for Christmas,” the BBC announced.
It’s not the first time the midwives have been on a Christmas adventure: the 2016 special was set and filmed in South Africa, while last year’s show took place partly at the Mother House and its orphanage.
With filming having wrapped on the 2019 Christmas special, production has now begun on series nine, which will air in 2020 with eight new episodes.
Kicking off in January 1965 with the funeral of Winston Churchill, the series will see Nonnatus House “entering a bold and innovative era” – but for the midwives, “the very fabric of their lives is jeopardised when Nonnatus itself comes under threat of demolition.”
Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas said: “After a magical Christmas experience in the Hebrides featuring wild seas, stormy skies and some very disobedient sheep, we return to the harsher reality of city life in 1965. Society is changing fast and in series nine we will see Nonnatus House shaken to its foundations.”
Having made her debut in last year’s Christmas special, Miriam Margolyes is back as Mother Mildred in this year’s festive episode – as well as series nine.
We’ll also see the return of Jenny Agutter (Sister Julienne), Linda Bassett (Nurse Crane), Judy Parfitt (Sister Monica Joan), Fenella Woolgar (Sister Hilda), Ella Bruccoleri (Sister Frances), Helen George (Trixie), Laura Main (Shelagh Turner), Jennifer Kirby (Valerie), Leonie Elliott (Lucille), Stephen McGann (Dr Turner), Cliff Parisi (Fred), Annabelle Apsion (Violet), Georgie Glen (Miss Higgins), Max Macmillan (Timothy), Trevor Cooper (Sgt Woolf) and Daniel Laurie (Reggie).
The year is 1965, and it’s a time of massive change for Poplar. “As the tower blocks multiply, and a new East End rises from the ashes of the old, society becomes more prosperous, but more complex,” the BBC has teased. “Our familiar team of medics and midwives face unexpected challenges as the population shifts, rules change, and old diseases come back to haunt them… meanwhile, their own experiences are fuelled by love, loss, and doubt.”
The new series will reportedly “uphold the show’s established reputation of compelling, sensitive and relevant storylines” as the midwives tackle cases including diphtheria, drug abuse, cancer, tuberculosis, and fistula.
The Christmas special will air in December 2019, with series nine following in the new year. A 10th and 11th series have already been commissioned, keeping the show on air until at least 2022.