Remember series seven, when Call the Midwife star Helen George was heavily pregnant? And so her character Nurse Trixie Franklin suddenly developed a habit of wearing oversized shawls and carrying large objects at stomach-height? And how the whole thing was so cleverly shot that you could hardly spot a bump at all?
Well, now COVID-19 has created a new filming challenge as the cast have to follow social distancing rules on set – but George reckons it won’t be obvious to viewers when they see the episodes on screen.
“We have this really funny fold-up ruler that comes out when we do a scene,” she tells press during a Zoom call from the set of the Christmas special. “It’s two metres if we’re facing each other, and one metre if we’re facing away, and so you’re set a scene and someone will come in with the ruler, which is odd!”
Asked whether it will look awkward, she said: “No, I don’t think it will actually. I wondered, but I think – look, they almost managed to hide me being seven months pregnant – almost – so they can definitely cheat a bit of distance!
“And actually camera angles – it’s always slightly different on camera anyway, so actually it doesn’t make that much difference I don’t think.”
As for returning to a COVID-secure set, George says: “It is odd, I’m not gonna lie. It’s definitely weird.
“But I think because we were supposed to start filming the week after the initial lockdown was announced, so the fact that we’ve just come back to work at all is such a miracle. I think we’re just like: ‘Yeah, whatever, fine. We’ll wear masks, we’ll wear visors.’
“And we have a wide age range – we have newborn babies to members of the cast that are a bit older as well. I’m so impressed by how many precautions have happened and the amount of PPE, I mean, we’re basically in space suits the whole time! It’s pretty impressive.”
The upcoming festive special will see Trixie receive a subscription to a Marriage Bureau as a Christmas gift. We don’t yet know who the gift-giver is, or why they’ve decided Trixie needs to be matched with a husband – but we do know that Trixie is “incensed” by the present. So that’s something to look forward to!
The Call the Midwife Christmas special will air on 25th December 2020, with series 10 following in early 2021. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.