Call the Midwife creator and writer Heidi Thomas has "laughed off" reports she is quitting the show, calling them "absolute nonsense, rubbish and balderdash."
The alarming claims came from Thomas' upcoming episode of The South Bank Show, but she said her remarks have been "taken out of context" in tabloid reports.
- When will Call the Midwife series 9 air on TV?
- Call the Midwife creator reveals when the BBC drama might have to end
- 63 behind-the-scenes facts you didn't know about Call the Midwife
"One or two fans of Call the Midwife may have received an unwelcome surprise this morning, when they awoke to news reports suggesting that Heidi Thomas, our writer-creator, is leaving the show," a post on the show's Facebook page reads. "Guess what? Heidi was quite surprised too!!"
Thomas also responded, saying: "Remarks I made about developing new projects for the future have clearly been taken out of context. Subsequent reports that I am quitting Call The Midwife are absolute nonsense, rubbish and balderdash!
"I am at my desk as usual, fuelled by a large madeira cake, and busy creating new adventures for the Nonnatus House family."
A new episode of The South Bank Show takes a deep dive into Thomas's career so far. Host Melvyn Bragg asked whether the BBC drama has stopped her from "doing much else", to which Thomas replied: "Yes, it has."
She said: "I've been working on it for ten years, if you think I wrote the first script in 2009 and it's 2019. And in that time, I've only done a Broadway musical and Little Women, in addition to Call the Midwife. And every year, I've gone through the, 'Oh, is it worth it? Is it worth it?' And it's always worth it.
"But when I look at the casualties along the way, I mean, my path for the last eight years is strewn with bodies, corpses, things that I was commissioned and couldn't write.
"I will always look after Call the Midwife. But if there's another three years to go, I think I'm going to have to start – it's like owls, isn't it? When they learn to fly they wriggle along the branch. And they wriggle along and they wriggle along, and then suddenly they're flying. And I suppose that will be me in the next year or two."
She continued: "What I don't want is when Call the Midwife ends, for me to be 60 and redundant and have to go and do yoga and polish things at church, and do all the other things retired ladies do. I feel as though there's a dance in the old dame yet. The old dame being me."
Series nine of Call the Midwife is currently halfway through filming, and series 10 and 11 have already been commissioned – meaning the show will be on air until at least 2022.
Thomas is an executive producer on the show and also writes many of the episodes, although she has increasingly brought other screenwriters into the team. For series eight, writers included Louise Ironside, Debbie O'Malley, Andrea Gibb and Lisa Holdsworth.
It seems Thomas may be planning to "wriggle along the branch" and let others take a bigger role in making the hit BBC drama. But while she may have an eye on other projects, Thomas is NOT quitting Call the Midwife – ever.
In a statement, Call the Midwife said: "Heidi has vowed to remain on board until the very end."
Heidi Thomas appears on The South Bank Show on Tuesday 6th August at 10pm on Sky Arts and NOW TV
Call the Midwife returns for a Christmas special in December 2019 and series 9 in 2020