Alice was eight months old when she first played Angela, the adopted daughter of the Turners: midwife Shelagh and her GP husband Patrick. And as Alice has grown, so has Angela. Laura Main, who plays Shelagh, explains what a special bond they have forged over the past two and a half years.
“We have about ten days of filming with Alice in each series, and we have become like little friends. She’s like one of my nieces, she’s adorable, and it has been incredible seeing the difference in her each year.
“I think the penny dropped about filming when she was about two. It was during the scene when we were camping, and when she realised she had to do the same thing over and over again. At the end of the day she said, ‘I did it!’ She had grasped the basics of acting for the camera. Doing series six with her has been a delight. I think she’s really enjoyed it.”
Alice in series four of the show
Alice’s father Joseph says she’s having a great time. “She’s got to the stage where she realises what she’s doing. She’s made the connection between being on set and then, a few months later, seeing herself do the same things on TV.”
He says there was no plan to put her forward as a child performer. “Annabel, my wife, just knew someone on the production and Alice’s arrival coincided with the storyline. It simply started from there.”
Joseph says the crew all make a huge fuss of his daughter. “For her it’s like having a day, or an afternoon, out. Before they do any filming, or anything on set, Laura and Stephen play with her, doing colouring or building things, so a rapport is there and when the cameras and a crew of 50 people arrive, she’s comfortable.
“Do I now have any interest in her being a child actor in any other way? Zero interest. To be honest, we will simply enjoy playing the episodes back to her when she is older, and embarrassing her on her wedding day, and of course she now has quite a nice nest egg in her savings account.”
Babies get what “you might call a nominal fee” per session, says Tricklebank. “It’s less than three figures — a bit more than £40, but not much more.”
Then there’s the chaperone. “Every child under 16 on set must have a proper, qualified chaperone independent from the parent. They log the time that the baby or child works and check that everything is done properly within the law.”
It seems the Brown family is so modest about their daughter’s role in a hit show that they haven’t told the world. “The other day at nursery,” says Joseph, “Alice was asked what her favourite TV programme was, and of course she said Call the Midwife. When her teacher asked why, she said, ‘Because I’m in it.’
“Her teacher thought she was making it up, and laughed. When she found out Alice was telling the truth, she said she was astounded, and really rather shocked that she had doubted her for a second.”