Nurse Cynthia Miller is one of the quieter members of Nonnatus House, often in the shadow of Trixie, with her red-lipstick, blonde waves and fluttering eyelashes, or spoken over by eccentric Sister Monica Joan. But this Christmas sees Cynthia, played by Byrony Hannah, take on a big storyline.
“She has quite a discovery,” teases Hannah.
Christmas sees “a big transformation for Cynthia. We’ve seen her growing in confidence in previous series and she’s doing that but she’s always trying to find where she fits in the world. She’s trying something new this series.”
Not that she’s changing from the kind, thoughtful midwife we know and love: “She’s still very heartfelt and earnest. She’s very dedicated to her work and she takes everything very seriously.”
Unlike Trixie, who is looking forward to a Christmas coupled up with curate Tom, Cynthia is still without romance.
“She’s dedicated to what she’s doing and follows her heart in other ways,” says Hannah.
But the festive episode will reveal more about the midwife, who Hannah describes as “still a little fragile and fractured.”
Her big Christmas discovery “echoes a bit what happens to her in the books” which pleases Hannah, who takes inspiration from the fact Cynthia was a real person: “I’ve had something in mind for a while in my mind and that’s coming to fruition now which is quite nice.”
She’s keen to honour the memory of the midwife – “She was an all round lovely person who suffered from depression throughout her life. She takes everything very much to heart” – not that her character research always goes to plan…
“Once Jennifer Worth’s family came in and they bought a ring the real Cynthia had worn. It was a really magical moment. I put it on and it was like worlds colliding. It was so special.”
“We were chatting and then I went to take it off and I couldn’t get it off. I started to really get quite hot. I yanked it and it went flying into a muddy puddle. I was completely mortified. It was so embarrassing.”
Hannah isn’t a fan of watching herself on screen, and prefers not to watch Call the Midwife when it airs on BBC1. Well, apart from on December 25th.
“Christmas Day is different because, oh my God it’s Christmas Day. I can’t believe I’m on telly on Christmas Day!”
“Christmas telly has always been so special in my family. We always sit down with the Radio Times and circle all the things that every member of the family wants to watch. I can’t believe that we’re on. I do get a bit embarrassed but my mum and dad love it so we do watch it as a family.”
Call the Midwife returns tonight at 7:50pm on BBC1