From the moment it arrived on our screens, Heidi Thomas has used Call the Midwife as a vehicle to both entertain and highlight challenging real-world issues, and tonight's episode was no exception.


Poplar becomes a community divided following Enoch Powell's 1968 Rivers of Blood speech, in which he delivered a scathing attack on UK immigration.

The Conservative MP was addressing party members in Birmingham ahead of the second reading of the Race Relations Bill, legislation designed to prohibit racial discrimination in employment, commerce, housing and public services. But Powell believed that it would be harmful to "the indigenous population".

Tory leader Edward Heath described the 45-minute speech as "inflammatory" and "liable to damage race relations", with Powell removed from his role as defence spokesperson the following day.

Lucille and Cyril sitting at a table together writing on a clipboard
Leonie Elliott as Nurse Lucille Robinson and Zephryn Taitte as Cyril Robinson. BBC/Neal Street Productions/Olly Courtenay Neal Street Productions/Olly Courtenay

Both Lucille and Cyril are aggrieved and troubled by what has unfolded. "Incitement to racial hatred in this country is a crime," says Cyril.

"Who's going to arrest a politician?" responds Lucille. "It won't stop people from acting on his words."

And she's not wrong. There was some support for Powell, with approximately 1,000 London dock workers protesting in support of him, which is also depicted in Call the Midwife.

One of the pregnant women Lucille is caring for also launches into a furious anti-immigrant tirade during her labour. Lucille is so distressed by the incident that she walks out.

"All is not well," she says to Sister Julienne.

Lucille was already pining for her family in Jamaica, but her sadness looks set to morph into something much more acute in the coming episodes.

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