Meet Call The Midwife’s newest nurse Phyllis Crane

The East End of London welcomes another new face this Sunday when Linda Bassett joins the cast

When Poplar’s midwives return for series four’s second instalment this Sunday evening, it’ll also be time to welcome another new face into the ranks. Last week saw the arrival of Barbara Gilbert (Charlotte Ritchie) but Nonnatus House is in need of yet more reinforcements, and they come in the shape of Phyllis Crane, played by period drama regular Linda Bassett. 

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Here’s everything you need to know about Nurse Phyllis Crane…


She’s from Leeds

“She brings in a bit of cultural difference from the Londoners,” says Linda Bassett. “She is very robust with a no-nonsense, get on with it attitude.” 

She’s forward thinking

“She keeps abreast of everything new and embraces change when she agrees with it. She’s always reading the latest publications and puts a lot of energy into being a better and better midwife.” 

And keen to teach the others

“She’s a career woman, very dedicated to both midwifery and also educating the younger midwives – often when they don’t ned it but she thinks they do! She has devoted herself to her work and wants to pass it on.”

Nuns aren’t her cup of tea…

“Their way of life is alien to her. The rules they live by are not the rules she has lived by. I have come to think she’s a bit scared of them – but don’t tell them that!” 

And she’s really not going to get on with Sister Evangelina: 

“They bring out the worst in each other. Suddenly they are in the playground!” says Bassett. “They are rivals in a way. They are both commanding women, have both led active lives and have faced danger.”

“The younger midwives have had Sister Evangelina in charge of them for so long and when this new bossy woman comes in laying down all sorts of laws, it’s superficially funny for them to see the two of them at odds with each other.”

She shares a room with fellow newbie Barbara… 

“Nurse Crane just turns up in her room because they have to share a room,” Charlotte Ritchie tells us. “She’s divided everything with duct tape, split all of the cabinets and everything so they don’t share anything!”

“When they first meet she’s sitting up in bed in her rollers and it’s a bit of a shock for Barbara.” 

And she’s a self-fashioned spinster. 

“She’s a spinster – she calls herself that,” says Bassett, adding that she dresses that way too. “She wears very plain, sensible, dowdy clothes and doesn’t express herself very much. We’ve gone slightly military and 40s with her outfits because we imagined that in the war was her glory years. She was free and away from home and probably had her best time then.” 

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Call the Midwife continues on Sunday at 8:00pm on BBC1