Christmas Day just wouldn’t be the same without Call the Midwife, which is why we’re delighted to hear that Nonnatus House has reopened its doors – and that filming is underway for the 2020 festive special.
In April, the BBC drama’s creator and writer Heidi Thomas told RadioTimes.com that the Christmas special was an “absolute priority” and that the team was “determined” to deliver it, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Now, after a five month postponement, filming can finally kick off for the 90-minute Christmas special as well as series 10.
And while we already knew that this year’s Call the Midwife Christmas special will be set in Poplar, we also now have the first full synopsis, with storylines teased for Shelagh Turner, Sister Monica Joan, and Nurse Trixie Franklin.
“This year’s Christmas Special is set in December 1965,” say the show’s producers. “Everyone at Nonnatus House is looking forward to traditional celebrations with all the trimmings, but nothing goes quite to plan. Sister Monica Joan is rushed to hospital, and Trixie is incensed to receive a subscription to a Marriage Bureau as a Christmas gift.
“Meanwhile, a surprise reunion for Shelagh involves her in a deeply moving birth, and the Circus arrives in Poplar, bringing new friendships, new experiences, and an exciting adventure for Nurse Crane.”
However, because filming is starting so late in the year, there has been one crucial change: series 10, which is set to air in 2021, will now consist of seven hour-long episodes instead of the usual eight.
Heidi Thomas said: “Everyone is overjoyed to be whisking the dust sheets off Nonnatus House and getting back to filming after lockdown. It is a particular thrill to be able to deliver the Christmas Special on time, just as we promised at the start of the pandemic.
“We are very much a family at Call the Midwife, and like families everywhere, we have missed each other. We will now be putting more love and energy into our work than ever and can’t wait to share series ten with our fantastic, loyal audience.”
New photos showed Stephen McGann (Dr Turner) on set in a face mask, having his make-up done by the show’s “suitably COVID-protected” Head of Make-Up Stella O’Farrell.
Getting Call the Midwife (which also has a new book coming out in time for Christmas) back up and running has been no mean feat, as the production involves a huge crew of up to 200 people on set per day, 15 main cast members, approximately 70 guest actors per season, and plenty of babies.
Explaining the safety measures introduced on set, the show said in a statement: “As the production is taking place during the current COVID-19 pandemic, additional controls are being implemented. Call the Midwife’s production team and Neal Street Productions are committed to helping get the country back to work and have developed comprehensive protocols in accordance with current government guidelines to ensure that the series is produced in a safe and responsible manner.
“They have worked closely with industry bodies and the BBC to develop the detailed COVID-19 protocol policy, implementing various safety measures and testing and will keep it under constant review. There is also a designated COVID-19 supervisor on set to look after the production’s safety precautions and efforts. The health and safety of our cast and crew is our highest priority.”
Executive producer Dame Pippa Harris said: “Alongside the rest of the country, we have all been devastated to see how COVID-19 has affected people around the world. Our midwives and nurses may not be the front-line heroes of today’s NHS, but by getting back to work, they, and we, hope to bring some joy and respite into people’s lives.
“In such difficult times, the values of Call the Midwife seem more resonant than ever. In series 10 we will continue to celebrate the skill and bravery of the UK’s NHS whilst bringing laughter and love into our homes.”
The Christmas Special cast will include 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), Leonie Elliott (Lucille), Stephen McGann (Dr Turner), Cliff Parisi (Fred), Annabelle Apsion (Violet), Georgie Glen (Miss Higgins), Max Macmillan (Timothy), Daniel Laurie (Reggie) and Zephryn Taitte (Cyril).
You can pre-order The Wisdom of Call the Midwife book from Amazon for £12.05.
Call the Midwife will air on Christmas Day 2020, with season 10 in 2021. While you’re waiting visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.